Blake's 7: An Episode by Episode Re-Evaluation

Episode 12: Deliverance

Deliverance is an episode with a lot going on. In some ways it is weaker for it, in others it is stronger. When the Liberator happens to see a space vessel suffer some form of accident and fall into the gravitational pull of a nearby planet they go to the rescue, hoping to be able to aid the survivors who launched life pods.

The planet on which they landed is heavy with radiation and only short term exposure is recommended. It seems in the past two races warred on the surface and then bombed themselves back to primitive levels. (Similar to the planet in the episode Duel).

For once Blake lets Avon take the lead, and he Vila, Gan and Jenna travel to the planet. They find the capsules, one of the crew is dead, the other is badly injured. They beam back to the ship…. Only to find Jenna is missing.

Down they go again, while Blake and Cally help the survivor, who begs them to help him. His father is really ill and need the supplies he has on him immediately. When Blake says he will help, only as soon as his crew is back, the other takes Cally hostage and makes them leave at once…

Meaning that once again, when Avon and co rescue Jenna and need a quick escape, the Liberator is not there.

They do manage to escape through a mysterious door where they find the survivors of the war, and their technology – a rocket waiting to be launched into space, bearing the genetic data of their species, waiting to seed another world.

The guardian treats Avon like a god, and he is almost too happy to help.

On the Liberator the pilot collapses and dies, but not before telling Blake that the Federation were willing to pay an impossible amount of money for something his father has created.

Something called ‘Orac’

Taken as a whole this is actually an enjoyable episode. I remembered it as being a bit of a ‘filler’ but was pleasantly surprised. I think part of the fun is the speed at which it travels, with so many things happening it fairly barrels through – not only do we have the two Liberator crew strands, we also have Travis and Servalan coming to accords and heading out after Orac.

Not only does it seem that Avon is the more interesting character, but it feels as though Terry Nation feels the same, bringing him more to the fore, and allowing Blake to have a week off. It seems to work well though and the tables are nicely turned when Blake gets the show stealing quip at the end of the show:

Cally: Did she really think you were a god?Kerr Avon: For a while.Roj Blake: How did it feel?Kerr Avon: Don't you know?Roj Blake: Yes... I don't like the responsibility either.

It is the first mention of Orac, although at this stage in proceedings the viewer has no idea what it might be. This adds to the fun and mystery and of course sets up the final episode of the season.

All performances are strong, and although the principle ‘bad’ guy causes all kinds of problems, there is a level of sympathy because he is badly injured and desperate to save his father.

The special effects are standard fare with the stock footage of the Liberator and the Federation space station looking good, the rocket launch really is stock footage, but Ensor Jr’s ship although a good design looks to flimsy, while the explosions are not as effective as they could have been.

The fighting looks a lot better, which shows the stunt department are finding their feet.
Episode 13: Orac

Following on from the previous episode The Liberator travels to the home of the elderly professor Ensor. Well aware that they are racing the Federation, Blake and Cally manage to contact the old man, prepared to take him back to the ship and conduct the lifesaving operation he needs. In return they get Orac….

However Servalan and Travis cur off their escape route, and the trio have to escape through the tunnels below, along the way Ensor’s heart finally fails and he dies. Blake and Cally reach the surface only to be caught by Travis dead to rights.

Just as he is about to finally kill Blake, Avon arrives and blows Travis’ hand off.

Blake and the crew escape with Orac, perhaps the most powerful computer ever made, capable to draw on so much information that it might even be able to predict the future. When asked to prove this ability it predicts that the Liberator (although it never calls it by name) will be destroyed.

They can only watch helplessly as the ship blows up….

Story wise this has to be one of the best episodes of the first season, there is a lot going on and the continuity works well.

Gan, Jenna, Vila and Avon all start to show signs of radiation poisoning contracted in the previous episode. Interestingly it effects them all at different rates which may well be a bit more realistic.

Derek Farr is absolutely superb as Ensor (and Orac), some of the lines he is asked to spout could be slightly dodgy, but he makes the character come alive. There is a definite sense of loss when he dies, punctuated by Cally’s apology for not getting him back to the Liberator quicker.

The loss of radiation drugs on the Liberator is a bit convenient but works well to motivate the crew to go after Ensor, hoping that he might have the medicine they need. There is the hint that Blake would risk them anyway.

Avon gets another great moment, and consistent characterisation as, despite his sickness, is governed by self-preservation. He goes looking for Blake and is there in time to shoot Travis. He also gets one of the great Blake’s 7 lines:

Blake: Great shot!

Avon: Not really, I was aiming for his head.

You have to wonder what planet Servalan and Travis are living on approaching the surface of the planet with no weapons apart from Travis’ hand blaster. The supreme commander must have reached the position through some skill at her job. To nearly get eaten by a reptile simply because she does not have a gun seems a bit weak. Jacqueline Pearce does a great job of showing Servalan pulling herself together quickly though.

Speaking of the reptiles, terrible costumes, not very well executed at all.

Blake lets Travis and Servalan live. Just imagine what turmoil he would have thrown the Federation into had he killed the Supreme Commander. His argument is that he will send a message to Space Command telling them that the due let them get away with Orac.

It is obvious from Servalan’s reaction who is going to be blamed for it, Interestingly though if she had let Travis shoot Blake when he first wanted to things might have ended differently.

We learn in this episode that all computers have something called a Tarion Cell, created by Ensor. Orac is able to tap into these cells which effectively means the machine is able to draw on all data and knowledge from any computer (so all computers) containing the cell.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger, the apparent destruction of the Liberator. Orac states it is an inevitability that is getting closer. How are they going to get out of that?
The resolution of that was something I remember not being happy with at all.

I agree, I thought it was a little convenient get out of jail free card. That being said, Orac never says the name of the ship being destroyed, neither does it say when it will happen. It could be years in the future... (But it's not obviously, just a case of a writer outsmarting himself and having to get out of the corner he has put himself in!)
A Reflection on Season One.

Allegedly Blake’s 7 was one of those things that just happened. Creator/writer was out for a meal with a BBC executive, talking about the demise of his previous series, Survivors, and was asked off the cuff what he had lined up next.

He tossed out the first idea that came into his head, and much to his surprise was asked to develop it. There are stories of it been green lighted a lot faster than he would have liked which led to him spending a crazy period of time writing episode after episode to get a season in place.

Nation wrote the entire first season on his own, which might be why there is a dip in quality here and there, but it is not something that really effects things, because as a whole, the season is very strong, good enough to pick up a renewal.

Despite the popular myth that the sets were wonky and wobbled, the Liberator – which is the most predominant set, is sturdy enough. It still looks good, and has some interesting design points that work in its favour. Zen is different enough to be something special, and the pilot’s controls are quite unique.

The fact that the gun cabinet will only allow an individual to take one good at a time is another good factor.

Like a lot of things in the show, the ‘actual’ makeup of the controls is very primitive, lots of circuit boards, random wires and tubes, but this is a sign of the time in which it was made.

Other settings are mostly practical, using a lot of location work. This sort of works and may be considered a little more realistic than constructed sets, if a bit dated. It is though, a clever use of the things at hand rather than wasting money on new things. Running round power plants and other industrial complexes gives Blake’s 7 a unique feel, setting it apart even from its contemporary Doctor Who. Some of the other sets, notably the prison ship at the start that are maybe a little too simple and some things look a little flimsy, but this is only a slight criticism – the sets are only being used once or twice it would be a waste of time to over-elaborate.

There are, or course, the obligatory quarry shoots, but there are also forest locations and beach location which belays the often spouted clay pit domination of the locations.

The characterisations are good, as are the performances. Much to my surprise Avon comes out on top, his self-serving comments, air of superiority and general intelligence work well. In comparison Blake is rather bland. We are told that he is a great leader, that he will fight the Federation tooth and nail, but we don’t actually get to feel it. He should be able to go toe to toe with Avon and does not.

Vila is rapidly becoming the coward of the group, but it is played well and he is certainly a genius when it comes to opening doors!

Jenna and Cally both seem bland, not played with at all as well as they could have been, especially Cally whose whole alien, telepathic nature is woefully underused.

Gan is a revelation. He is interesting and has a solid set up, especially with the Limiter implant, the idea of someone being so strong and a born killer who has been neutered is something that could be played with more. The fact that he could seem threatening when we know he is relatively impotent is a great plot device.

One of the biggest weaknesses are the special effects. Design is superb, the Liberator stands out as a masterwork, and the main Federation pursuit ships look good and some of the other craft, although bland work well.

You can see the hands tied by what was available at the time – smoke and fire in space, and the use of photo images of craft rather than model work all stand out, but when done right it looks stunning.

Some of the design work is top notch, the Federation trooper uniforms deserve to have become iconic as do their hand guns. Even the sound effects work well.

The teleport effect is a good idea but poorly executed, as are the space ship battles. The Liberators tactical screen is great in 3D, but what it shows are poor.

The weakest part of the season are the stunt fights, often looking staged as though the actors are afraid to hit one another (well you know what I mean) but they become more convincing as the show continues.

A good first season then, roll on the second.
Season 2 Episode 1 Redemption

Still reeling from Orac’s prediction, the crew fret over what is going to happen. Avon, however points out that the solution is simple. Match the star patterns in the prediction and stay well away from them. Problem solved.

It is about then that the Liberator comes under attack. Its systems start to shut down, out of control they begin a reckless top-speed dash across space without a clue who it is that attacked them or where they are going.

(The ships that attack them look similar in design to the Liberator but the crew can’t see them)

They find themselves brought to a massive Space Station and a small group of planets, called the System, where the humans are treated as slaves or are joined/subservient to a massive computer.

It is where the Liberator came from and they want it back…

The crew escape capture, through their own ingenuity and the fact that the System seems to be suffering an ever glowing glitch. This is down to Orac.

They escape in the Liberator but find themselves in the exact area of space where the ship will be destroyed and they are caught dead to rights by an attacking sister ship. Which conveniently explodes thus saving the crew from the prediction. They head off for Federation space where Blake has unfinished business.

The opening episode is quite interesting. This is a show that has found its feet and should know what its strengths are, at the same time though Terry Nation had written it into a corner with the cliffhanger ending. How were they going to get out of that?

For me this is the weakest episode so far. The System troopers all wear uniforms that look distinctly amateurish and the female members all wear skin tight lycra that seem weak, even with the extra bits stuck on.

The giant space station looks good, but for once is at odds with the industrial interior.

When Blake, Avon and Jenna first wandered onto the Liberator in Spacefall it spoke an alien language and the translator circuits took a while to absorb the language, yet here the people of the System all speak perfect ‘English.’

It really feels like a desperation ‘get out of jail free card’ is played with the sister ship being the one to get destroyed.

On the other hand though the larger sets for the Liberator are excellent and really add to the feel of the ship being large.

The crew’s wardrobe has expanded and looks better – Avon gets to wear his black leather at last - and there are some great character moments. Perhaps the most interesting is the slight shift in the Blake/Avon dynamic, where before Avon was seen by the crew as subservient to Blake, here he is seen as a rival.

Orac steals the show with hardly saying a word – not only does he completely overwhelm the System, but he also, rather smugly, causes the sister ship to blow up. It is perhaps the saving grace of the situation, where the computer tells them all that he had to do or his prophecy would have been wrong.

Worst bit sees Blake menaced by a cable from the ship. It bobs around like a snake and is eventually destroyed by way of Avon and a bomb. The ridiculous bit is the oil that seeps from the downed cable like blood…
Sorry about the delay with the viewing and posts, hoping that regular service will be resumed this weekend.
Season 2 Episode 2 Shadow (by Chris Boucher)

Shadow is the first episode of the show not to be written by series creator Terry Nation. Instead Chris Boucher takes his first real shot at the show and turns in a story that might not be the best in Blake’s 7 run, but is a good solid start.

Shadow is a drug, highly addictive, very expensive and the main source of income for a massive criminal organisation the Terra Nostra. From the get go we are informed by members of the crew – mostly Gan and Jenna that the Terra Nostra are nasty pieces of work, not to be trusted and that they are better off not getting involved.

Blake disagrees and overrules all protests, basically following the principle that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and believing he can use the Terra Nostra as much as they can use him. It is a disaster. Not only does Blake rapidly learn that the Terra Nostra are totally in it for themselves and will not deal with him in the slightest, but Vila decides to disobey orders and go on a drinking spree, while something very strange is happening to Orac.

There is a satisfying payoff, when the crew destroys the supplies of Shadow, an even bigger boon when they realise that the Terra Nostra is Federation controlled anyway.

It is good to see Blake actually being a bigger player in the episode. It is his plan and he drives it. We get to see him as a slightly more uncompromising character, not listening to his crew when the advise him against the course of action, and stating quite clearly that he is prepared to do anything to take the fight to Earth.

Cally actually gets to use her powers and there is a strong element that deals with ideas concerning telepathy throughout the episode.

Avon still remains the strongest character, even though he has less to do this episode he still dominates his moments.

Vila starts to really develop, having more to do and showing that he is prepared to get his own way if he really wants it.

We get to learn a bit more about Jenna and understand that she has a rather nasty streak in her and Gan gets to not only show a well-considered wisdom, but there are hints of the violence that are restricted by his limiter.

In all, for the first time in a long time every one of the regular cast gets something to do and they do it well. We are also reminded that although they are the protagonists and by default the shows heroes, there is a lot that is not heroic about them.

This episode serves to confirm Avon’s insistence that Zen is little more than a computer, something that is easily conveyed in the way Orac overrides it.

We get to see The Liberator in action a little more and a reminder that the ship is more powerful that a lot of the others around.

Orac is shown to not only have a dark side, albeit one that has been manipulated by an outside force, but that he is actually invulnerable to outside agencies. He is also able to protect himself to a lethal extent, electrifying his off switch.

The episode manages to avoid a number of things that seemed in danger of becoming commonplace, no delays when the crew need to teleport up. We do get to see the quarry in use again!

In all a good episode, with some interesting ideas.
Season 2 Episode 3 Weapon by Chris Boucher

The third episode of the season is an odd one, not necessarily a bad one, but odd. It is the second in a row to be written by Chris Boucher and again has multiple plot threads that serve to keep things interesting but… well I’ll get to it.

A technician, Coser, has apparently made a weapon that should be beyond him, the Imipak. Already slightly paranoid he goes on the run, freeing a subservient ‘slave’ along the way. Rashel.

Meanwhile Travis has been sent to meet with the Clonemaster, a sophisticated group who have specialised in making clones. They are doing a task for Servalan. It seems that they have made two Blake clones, one is killed by Travis.

There is a plan underway and involves dealing with Blake once and for all, but along the way Servalan once Imipak.

Blake and co get wind of the weapon and go after it.

Servalan and Travis send in the clone Blake and Coser hands the weapon over, only to be shot and killed. It seems the weapon in itself is harmless, but once shot the target is marked for life. If a second mechanism is activated the targeted victim dies.

Once she has it Servalan wastes no time shooting Travis in the back – he does not know, then takes the weapon using it to shoot Blake, Avon and Gan.

They trio have no choice but to flee when their situation is explained to them, hoping to be out of range of the device before Servalan activates it. She hopes that their sudden deaths will be enough to distract the rest of the crew, meaning that when they are attacked by incoming Federation ships she will be able to report that they took Imipak and it was destroyed along with them. The only person who knew the truth would be Travis (and her other ally) but Travis will be dead, as will her other ally – or she trusts him enough to let him live – a master strategist.

They have not considered though the morality placed in the clone by the clonemasters, or the influence of the freed slave Rashel on him. The clone takes Imipak from Servalan – then shoots her with it, informing them all that he will keep the weapon safe. As long as he has it they will all be safe.

It is an interesting idea, but one that does not bare thinking about too much. Servalan was apparently putting the plan together before Coser went on the run, and as the whole thing revolved around the weapon, how did she know about it?

After over a year of trying to get Blake in his sights Travis manages it at last. And this time he cannot shoot to kill, instead suddenly finds himself a marksman extraordinaire hitting all three of the group with the Imipak. If Blake is rapidly becoming such a big threat, surely an instant kill is better.

If Servalan has to trick Coser into telling her what Imipak does, how can she have made the plan before hand?

However, Servalan’s plan is the best one we have seen yet, only failing at the last hurdle. She is already progressing into a more effective lead villain than Travis, and her acceptance that he is a weak link and being prepared to kill him is a superb bit of character development.

The whole thing, aside from entertainment value is a bit of a waste. Everything that is set up is wiped clean at the end. We have created this powerful new weapon – but it is never going to be seen again.

The Clonemaster’s are an interesting creation, but seem just to be there to serve their purpose. As far as I am aware we do not see them again – although we do learn later that Cally’s people are masters of cloning.

The Blake clone is not actually a clone. Rather it is an identical copy made from compiled genetic data, and basic education. Although it appears like Bake and knows about Blake it does not have true memories. If it had been made from genetic material it would have had all of this.

This could be considered the ‘Doctor Who’ episode of Blake’s 7.


Well the Clonemasters are an advanced, isolated strand of humanity. They use technology beyond most, and have a strong moral code that includes a pacifist outlook, like the Time Lords. It seems as though the costume department has been to the Gallifreyan equivalent of a charity shop, as the Clonemasters, Coser and Rashel all seem to be wearing reworked Time Lord gowns and collars.

The Clonemaster grows old then is cloned from one of her own cells, meaning she has a long life span…

And tongue firmly in cheek it seems as though Travis has regenerated. Gone is Stephen Grief, replaced by Brian Croucher. It is a mistake right across the board. Despite a change in costume, Travis now comes across as a cockney two dimensional thug. Not only has the change not done the character favours but the change in costume does not suit and the eye-patch has been changed to a small plastic cover. The old one covered a large part of his face and seemed to go under the hair, a real grim wound that showed why Travis hated Blake. The new look is simply to clinical.

The episode does have some great character interaction, and Blake really comes across as ruthless, even as far as his crew are concerned. Only Avon seems to be really concerned by it, which is very interesting.
Season 2 Episode 4 Horizon by Allan Prior

The crew of the Liberator are suddenly suffering from exhaustion. I suppose it gives the feeling that they have been up to a lot off screen. There is a lot of talk of them running a lot, rather than fighting.

Blake has led them to the edge of known space, where there is nothing. Or so it seems.

They notice a small Federation freighter going somewhere. But where?

The follow discreetly and find that it is a single planet, designated only Horizon.

Why are there no records, why does the Federation want to keep it secret? It’s too much for Blake who has to find out. He and Jenna transport down and are captured.

There is a primitive society on the planet, but they have been manipulated and subjugated by the Federation. Their leader is a man caught between two worlds, the promise he sees in the Federation and the traditions of his people.

Despite his doubts he has Blake and Jenna tortured and then set to mining a rare material, worth a fortune. The reason the Federation is interested in the planet…

When Blake and Jenna don’t respond Gan and Villa go to try and find them and get caught.

This leads Cally to follow and she… gets caught.

This leaves Avon alone on the ship and he has to decide whether to do a runner or wade in and save the day.

After a lot of introspection, he goes in, out thinking everyone else, overcoming the security systems and freeing the others.

The leader gets tired of all the manipulation and kills the Federation officers and lets Blake and the others go free….

This episode sees the writers diversify even more as a third voice is added. As far as things go Prior has a great story, with some interesting points. The idea of the crew suffering from exhaustion is a good one, especially as they seem to be able to keep going on a cocktail of drugs and adrenaline. It is something that could have been explored in greater detail, even at a later date, Instead (I may be proved wrong) but it is something that is forgotten by the end of the episode, even though there has been more stress!

Blake comes across here as being driven, perhaps something we really needed to see. He is aware he and the crew are suffering from fatigue, but he is still able to manipulate matters to help him investigate Horizon. The feeling is that he planned it all along. There is a glimmer now that he will do anything no matter what the cost to hurt the Federation.

Avon gets another big role, but it seems slightly out of character. Up until now he has been prepared to back Blake, with conditions. Here without a moment's thought he is prepared to run off and leave everyone (This might be the stress talking). He still comes to the rescue, out thinking everyone else up until that point. It is interesting to note though at the end when it comes down to a faceoff with three Federation craft, it is Blake who out thinks everyone else…

In keeping with the rest of this season the costumes have changed and everyone is given their own style. The process continues here, but there is an abundance of lycra and silver nylon on display. As a whole it seems to work, there is just the hint of a feeling that they are trying to make the clothing futuristic, rather than being something people would just wear.

The Federation uniforms - officer seem to have changed here, almost as though another department made them. They do not fit in with what has been seen before.

A lot of men stripping to the waist and covered in muck. It’s nice to see that the men of the late 70’s didn’t feel the need to be in glistening super fit form.

No outstanding dialogue this episode, just good steady stuff that works well.

A second episode where Blake comes across as a stronger, more driven character. Probably something that will continue as the season progresses, and most certainly in the next episode which really does shake up the status quo.
Season 2 Episode 4 Pressure Point by Terry Nation

Pressure Point has to be one of the most important episodes of Blake’s 7’s run, and it is certainly the best of Season 2 so far, if not the entire series to date.

It is a strange episode in that I must have seen it before – I had the entire series on VHS and I watched them all at least once – but I have very little memory of it. This is true for a lot of season 2, why I do not really know.

It is the first time that all the different elements come together and work well. A strong story, good acting and the sets are particularly good.

For the first time in a long while Blake comes across as the most dominant character, a slight shift in personality gives him the edge that he seemed to be missing and something more tangible for Gareth Thomas to get his teeth into.

The story is by Terry Nation, the first in a while and it seems as though the slight break works a treat. Playing the secrecy card, as he has done before, Blake has taken the Liberator on a little jaunt. It may well be a sign of paranoia that he does not trust the crew enough to tell them when he is planning something – possibly due to the fact they’ll mutiny when he is doing something particularly stupid.

In this instance he has taken them back to Earth, to the heart of the Federation. He intends to meet up with an Earth based resistance leader, who will help him gain access to Control, the heart of the Federations computer system. Destroying it might bring the entire regime to its knees.

It seems odd that people know where Control is, but then it is something that just could not be hidden, and it is so heavily defended that any attack against it would be suicide.

But as Blake tells the crew, “It’s about Earth, it’s always been about Earth.”

Everyone is suitably horrified at what he intends, but Blake insists the plan is fool proof, but concedes if something seems wrong, if anyone starts to feel that it is spiralling out of control he will pull out immediately. After some thought the crew agrees to help, the surprise being Avon who does not hesitate to join. Logical as always he points out that the destruction of control really will bring the Federation to its knees, that afterwards there will be chaos and upheaval and the only person the different factions will accept as a leader is Blake. With Blake gone the Liberator will be Avons.

“It will be sooner or later,” he adds somewhat prophetically.

It is some nice character development, firstly in Blake who has gone from being caught up in events outside of his control, following little clues and mysteries or butting heads with Travis to actually dictating events and spearheading a major offensive against the Federation. With Avon it is the first time we have seen him show an interest in the Liberator. Up until now it has seemed that his main concern was with self-preservation. It is a step forward to actually want the ship although it is still linked to his own safety.

Of course things are not perfect and we soon learn that Travis and Servalan are involved in a plot to ensnare Blake. Sorry, but the new Travis continues to disappoint, he has none of the refined features of Stephen Grief, coming across as a cockney thug, a not too intelligent one at that. On the other hand Jaqueline Peirce purrs across the screen as the Supreme Commander and it I easy to see why she replaced Travis as the principle bad guy (or gal).

The set design for the command centre of Control is probably one of the best sets I have seen on Blakes 7. Pure white, smooth surfaces with monitors sunk into them, which serves to hide the size of them. In the day of course that would not have been a problem, but in the modern world with superslim devices it hides the clunkiness of yesteryear quite effectively. The only Federation staff we see are mutoids which also adds to the feeling of a harsh future authority confident in their power.

The leader of the Earthbound resistance Kasabi is a strong female leader, probably in the mould of Avalon, which is ironic in that the core of the trap set by Travis and Servalan is the same. Before Blake arrives the rebels are ambushed and executed. Unlike Avalon there is no inside man working for the Federation, rather it is an efficient manoeuvre. But with Kasabi prisoner, Travis is able to blackmail her daughter into being a traitor.

When Blake finds her the sole survivor he does not question the matter, perhaps a sign that his desire to damage the Federation is becoming greater than his common sense.

At the same time he ignores his own promise, although things are going wrong he does not pull out, believing he can still destroy Control. This a great performance by Gareth Thomas, showing some lovely monomania. Even when Avon calls him on the situation, Blake lies (or at least avoids the question).

The whole things plays out quite predictably, Travis and Servalan bitch with each other as Blake, Avon, Gan and Vila penetrate the complex – having escaped from a sparse imprisonment, they do lose their teleport bracelets though.

Using the various skills, Gan’s strength, Avon cold technical knowhow, Blake’s leadership/bullheadishness and Vila’s lockpicking they reach the very centre of control and find….

It is the key point of the episode and the biggest spoiler (so I’m not going to mention it). With the secret of Control revealed Blake and the others are captured by a gloating Travis, only for Jenna to enter the room – having teleported down to see what was going on – with Servalan as her prisoner.

It is delightful that as Blake escapes Servalan blames Travis for pausing rather than letting the rebels go and risking her life, while the poor old Space Commander has to accept the fact that he caught Blake and could have killed him only to have had it pulled from underneath him – and not only that he will be the one in the wrong.

Of course there is a sting in the tail, and unable to teleport from so deep beneath ground Blake leads his crew toward the surface. Only to have a rage fuelled Travis throw a strontium grenade after him. The resulting explosion traps the Federation group underground, something else to upset Servalan, but more importantly it kills a member of Blake’s crew.

Suddenly the whole running around the galaxy talking about fighting the Federation is no longer fun. It is real. It is dangerous. It is deadly.

The crew’s reaction to the loss is one of gloomy depression, especially as the loss was ultimately for nothing. Blake especially, seems not to acknowledge anything, almost as if the death was just a fallen soldier in a war. But there is a hint of something in his eyes, and the feeling that he is going down a very dark road.

There is an interesting, throwaway line in the episode that I don’t remember being referenced elsewhere, that the Federation academy is a good one and that the people who do well there are genuinely good people. Unfortunately the ones that get the positions of power are rich and effectively buy them. Servalan is one of these.
Season 2 Episode 5 Trial by Chris Boucher

In many ways this is a direct follow on from the previous episode, although there is no real mention of that.

It is also rather simple.

Travis takes centre stage and is on trial for the massacre of civilians, an event that happened three years earlier. (There is no mention of whether this is when he was shot by Blake). It would seem that Servalan is slightly peeved with what happened at Control and wants him removed, permanently to avoid any possible embarrassment for herself. Ultimately the trial is rigged against the Space Commander and he is found guilty, the sentence is execution. But…

Blake is apparently overcome with guilt over the death of Gan, as he should be according to Avon. His crusade has suddenly become real. People die. He deliberately strands himself on an apparently uninhabited planet, using the time to contemplate Gan’s death and allowing his crew to do the same.

Of course things do not go as well as he hoped and the planet is a living entity, causing him a few problems as it starts a cleansing process to rid it of unwanted parasites. It really is a filler story, with Travis taking the spotlight, but there are important repercussions.

Once back on the ship, discovering the crew are still with him Blake promises a one off strike, for Gan, to re-establish him as a force to be reckoned with, and they run an audacious attack on the Federation’s main headquarters.

The attack allows Travis to escape, something that Servalan aids in. Seeing an opportunity she makes sure he has a ship in which to run, a crew that will obey him and weaponry. In return he promises to hunt down and kill Blake.

This is another episode that I do not really remember – I don’t know what it is about season 2 – but it stands as a good episode. For once Travis works well, possibly because he is mostly a silent brooding presence, and when he does speak it is with a contempt and venom for proceedings. It is an interesting step to see him on trial, and a lot of fun to watch the background machinations. It also lets the viewer realise just how ruthless Servalan can be, prepared to have her closest ally executed in order to protect herself.

It all raises a question about how bad the Federation really is. The general opinion is that what Travis has done is reprehensible, that it is something that is wrong and that the common people should see justice done. If the Federation were as bad as Blake paints then Travis would seem to be the perfect face for the military.

We also learn that there is a lot of power playing going on amid the positions of the Federation and that Servalan and the President really don’t like one another. So perhaps there are different elements of the Federation, it is not as black and white as it has been painted, although corruption is definitely on the rise.

Blake’s story is a lot more simple but there is the interesting element that he is, in fact, playing his crew, by seemingly doing the right thing and feeling guilty over Gan’s death he elicits enough sympathy to keep everyone together. At least that is the insight Avon gives. Ironically though it is Avon who saves the day!

There are some telling lines too:

Jenna: What would you know about guilt?

Avon: [smiling] Only what I've read.

Avon: I'm sure Blake will find us something suitable to attack.

Vila Restal: I see. You've decided to be led like the rest of us.

Avon: I shall continue to follow. It's not quite the same thing.

Vila Restal: I don't see the difference.

Avon: I didn't really think that you would.

Avon: One of these days they are going to leave you. They were almost ready to do so this time.

Roj Blake: Yes, I thought they might be.

Avon: You handle them very skillfully.

Roj Blake: Do I?

Avon: But one more death will do it.

Roj Blake: Then you'd better be very careful. It would be ironic if it were yours.

It does seem odd though that Blake, having just told the crew what a big mistake he made going after control, that he then tells them that they are going to do a strike on Servalan’s headquarters. Probably the most secure Federation outpost in space. But then the Liberator is faster than any other Federation craft…
I actually managed to watch an episode this weekend, first in ages. Now just got to write about it.
Season 2 Episode 7 Killer by Robert Holmes

I don’t know what it is about this second season, but I am finding it rather lacking in the old memory department. I know that I must have seen the episodes, and a few have vague memories lingering, but as a whole I have little recollection. It is even stranger when you consider how good the episodes have been.

This one is a slightly simpler episode than we have had of late, although it could still argue that it is an arc episode. The Liberator takes the crew to the planet Fosforon, where Avon and Vila initiate contact with an old friend of Avon’s in an attempt to secure a data crystal which will enable them to break the Federations current cypher.

At the same time Blake becomes interested in a derelict space craft that looks as though it is going to be salvaged by the same base. However Zen warns Blake that there is something incredibly wrong with the ship, and Blake decides to try and warn the base.

It seems a though there is an artificial virus aboard the ship and it starts eradicating all life on the base.

This is an odd episode in that it is engaging, but seems to be at odds with some of the things we have seen before, particularly in the personalities of the characters. Whether writer Holmes was trying to do something a little different, or was not completely up to speed on the series is something I had to think about. Considering he turned in some stunning Doctor Who episodes over the years it is hard to say it was down to poor writing.

Things of note:

I’ve seen it written in a couple of places that the series is meant to be set in the 26th Century, but the drifting ship has been missing for 700 years, meaning it would have launched in the 1800’s if this was the case.

There is mention of an area of space where no-one will go, and the theory is that it contains hostile aliens. Could this have something to do with the end of the season? I think not, but it might have been an early idea. They are aggressive though and deliberately created the virus in an attempt to wipe out humans.

Some of the people on Fosforon are not only likeable, but are pretty decent. This builds on what we have seen in the past, that perhaps it is only the upper echelons of the Federation that are corrupt. Perhaps it is an attempt to show how a massive power can slowly collapse in on itself as corruption sets in.

One of the reasons Avon travels to the planet on the mission is that he is the one that would recognise what they are looking for, but more importantly that the leader there is an old friend of his. That Avon has an old friend is a bit of a shock, especially one that he would have been prepared to protect when he was caught. It does not seem quite right for the character, but works well enough.

Blake bends over backwards to help once the plague hits, even going as far as to leave warning beacons around the planet to keep people away, This might seem like a decent thing to do, but they knew Serverlan was on the way to the planet. She could have been removed from the field in one move, a massive victory for Blake and the resistance. His justification of protecting innocents seems at odds with his previous attitude of collateral damage is a necessary evil.
Watching this episode some weeks ago it struck me that a basic rule applies in sf - when encountering an ancient spaceship leave well alone. Star Trek, Space 1999, Blake's 7 - it all applies.
I have watched another episode, Hostage, but don`t seem to haave the time to review it, I`m pretty sure I`ll end up stockpiling episodes and then do a mass of reviews in one go.

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