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

pambaddeley

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A good episode and another one key to fanfiction, given the revelation about Avon having a tragic lost love. Del Grant turned up in a few stories as well.

Incidentally, there's a bit in Spacefall where Avon is studying a letter with a pensive expression when approached - by Blake I think - and puts it away. After Countdown, the speculation was that the letter was from Anna.
 
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Perpetual Man

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I'm prepared to go along with that, just as speculation. I've just had a quick look at the scene in question.

Jenna has just wound Ryker up and received a backhand for her trouble. Avon is in the background. After the incident he walks away, and takes the letter from his pocket. It's almost as if seeing a Jenna stand up for herself and take the blow with a smile on her face triggers something in him. He sits at the table and looks at the letter - it is definitely something handwritten, and when Jenna asks him what it is, replies 'Nothing.' then sticks it back in his pocket.

It is folded and well read so it would seem to be something that he keeps going over, so my guess would be that it is one of two things, a letter from, or concerning Anna, or the plans made about the computer heist that got him caught - he's trying to work out what went wrong.
 

Perpetual Man

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2.10 Voice from the Past by Roger Parkes

Yet another season 2 episode that I don’t really remember very well (if at all) although I’m guessing unconsciously I must have done because I worked out Shevan’s identity far too quickly.

Another weak episode although there are a few good moments. Blake suddenly changes plans, acting slightly cagey and out of character, changing course for an obscure asteroid that has been mined out and forgotten.

As his behaviour seems increasingly erratic, and perhaps more importantly he won’t provide any explanation, Avon and Jenna try and restrain him, but despite an initial success Blake tricks Vila into releasing him and traps the others before heading for the asteroid.

There he meets rebel leader Shivan and Ven Glynd a member of the court that saw Blake sent to Cygnus Alpha back in season 1. They have been using appropriated technology from Auron (Cally’s homeworld) to subtly influence Blake, triggering flashbacks to his conditioning, and making him more susceptible to what they suggest. It has also made him more secretive.

Shivan was a rebel leader probably comparable to Blake or greater, but he was believed killed. It appears he survived, but horrifically wounded. Barely alive at all. He and Glynd have been working with an honest Federation Governor, Le Grand in an attempt to legally overthrow the high command by revealing the level of corruption in both the Earth Administration and Space Command, effectively a peaceful Coup which will leave Blake in command with Glynd , Shivan and Le Grand as advisors.

Unfortunately Servalan is two steps ahead and has set a trap, one that sees Le Grand killed and Glynd injured, while Blake begins to succumb to the device that has been influencing him.

On the Liberator it is revealed that Shivan is in fact Travis, who is working with Servalan. He takes control of the ship and is beamed down to the surface where he kills Glynd, but is unable to stop Blake escaping after Avon destroy the control device.

Blake remembers nothing about the whole sequence of events.

For me the high point of the episode was Gareth Thomas’ performance. Given something he can get his teeth into he seems to relish the part. When he is beginning to be overcome by the device he actually looks dangerous, and even the compliant Blake seems to be subtly different to the normal character.

There seems to be something for everyone to do, so no cast member gets left out in the cold, but for once Blake is central.

There is a lot more dissent from the crew something I really don’t remember as being so obvious, but there is generally a feeling that Blake is in command only by his fingertips.

Although it is the main cast that provide a solid backbone for the episode, it is riddled with plot holes that come more to the fore as the episode continues.

No one seems particularly bothered that Shivan is who he says he is. A man wrapped in bandages, with his left arm hidden at all times, who claims to be a legendary rebel is accepted by all. When it is revealed as Travis it is so obvious you wonder how not one of the crew saw it coming.

Once revealed Travis runs around with his neck brace on, long cloak and bandages. Surely it all hampers him, and he’d be better off without it.

Better still he effectively has control of the Liberator, yet is beamed down to a planet where he ends up trapped in a room that is besieged by Federation guards – and he is a wanted man. If he’d stayed on the ship everyone would have been killed, Servalan would let him go free, he’s have the Liberator.

There is no reason for Blake to go loopy and take the teleport bracelet off. Instead he stays there fighting Jenna when she is trying to put it back on him.

Worse still Travis is just standing there watching. He could have shot Blake and it’s all be over.

In all an episode of very interesting ideas, but the execution and pay off are poor.

It feels very much as an episode that was written for an earlier point in the show and has been slotted in here for some reason, jarring with what we have seen up until now.
 

pambaddeley

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I blotted this one out; only remember that Travis was in a deeply silly disguise that should have fooled no one.
 

Perpetual Man

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That is exactly right. Covered in a cloak, plaster cast and bandages, looking like a poor man's mummy, with the left hand always covered and an eye so false that you can't help but feel sorry for it. Not to mention the bad case of laryngitis...

Yeah, it's so obvious it is Travis that you don't believe it because it is so obvious.
 

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No Blake's 7 watching this week I'm afraid, have been too busy with this Christmas thing, and going to see some SF film in the cinema, Space Conflict or something.
 

pambaddeley

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Tee hee. Not to worry Tim. Hope you enjoy the film (some little art film with subtitles by the sound of it .... ;))
 

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2.11 Gambit by Robert Holmes

What with Christmas, Star Wars, New Year, raging plague (well infections and colds), impossibly buy at work, and a 100th Birthday to boot, it has been a while since I have had the time or inclination to watch any Blake’s 7, but at last, I find a Sunday afternoon and managed to watch one.

In many ways I’m sorry I did, this episode was bad.

A frontier world (ish) where people gamble for pleasure and with their lives, where the house nearly always wins. Set outside the jurisdiction of the Federation, it is a place that the desperate flee to, and when they get there they suddenly get the urge to wear Stetsons and poncho’s. To hang out in bars that have a futuristic veneer (or the attempt is made to do that), but the bartender with a big heart dresses as though she has stepped out of a Western.

The core story is straightforward and I guess there is some potential in the germ. The key character is Docholli a former Federation cyber-surgeon who is on the run from his former employers because it is believed that he knows the location of the controlling computer Star One. Having taken the pseudonym Klein, he struggles to keep one step ahead of his pursuers and that has brought him to Freedom City. Having called attention to himself helping with survivors of an accident he is living life as a heavy drunk, protected by a new bodyguard: Travis.

With the information gained previously Blake is hunting for the surgeon.

As is Servalan…

Well that’s it really, it descends into a mess of convoluted plots and counter plots, huge mouthfuls of unneeded exposition, plot holes, points made in the past forgotten and a dire subplot starring Avon and Vila, that sees both men out of character in an attempt to have a humorous storyline that falls flat. Orac gets to shrink, a useful ability perhaps, but never used before or again.

The episode is written by Robert Holmes who is rightly revered as one of the great classic Doctor Who writers, but here he seems to be doing it for the cash. It is every bit a filler episode, with the whole point to take Blake one step closer to finding Star One. A single line, in fact which is basically stretched to fill the whole episode.

Roll on the next episode.
 

pambaddeley

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Funnily enough this episode loomed large in fan fiction. Lots of people loved it! It's a lighthearted story, not something very common in B7, and very OTT/camp.Trivia fact - Krantor's assistant, Toise, is played by John Leeson, the voice of K-9.
 

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I did think I might be in the minority for this episode. I could see that they were trying to have fune, it just did not appeal to me in the slightest.
 

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Funnily enough this episode loomed large in fan fiction. Lots of people loved it! It's a lighthearted story, not something very common in B7, and very OTT/camp.Trivia fact - Krantor's assistant, Toise, is played by John Leeson, the voice of K-9.
I think that might be why I didn't like it so much, the lightheartedness just seemed to jar with the series feel as a whole. I did notice John Leeson!

Ha! It's one of my favourite episodes, mostly because of the Avon and Villa storyline! Each to their own....:)
I found the Avon Vila part entertaining, but really felt that Avon was out of character, jumping at the chance to go gambling, when Vila should have been the one in that position (although to be fair when Avon wanted to leave Vila kept playing.) I found the whole idea pointless though. Why did they want the money? Are they going to pop off somewhere and have a holiday? Id Avon going to use it to get away from Blake? No, they're just going to sit on it.

The chess sequence was a great idea (the graphics are very dated, but that's a product of the time), badly executed if you'll excuse the pun, and predictable. The Klute of course was played by Deep Roy, who went on to play a number of roles, perhaps most famously as the stand in for the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings.
 

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blah - flags. So many flags.
I think that might be why I didn't like it so much, the lightheartedness just seemed to jar with the series feel as a whole. I did notice John Leeson!



I found the Avon Vila part entertaining, but really felt that Avon was out of character, jumping at the chance to go gambling, when Vila should have been the one in that position (although to be fair when Avon wanted to leave Vila kept playing.) I found the whole idea pointless though. Why did they want the money? Are they going to pop off somewhere and have a holiday? Id Avon going to use it to get away from Blake? No, they're just going to sit on it.

The chess sequence was a great idea (the graphics are very dated, but that's a product of the time), badly executed if you'll excuse the pun, and predictable. The Klute of course was played by Deep Roy, who went on to play a number of roles, perhaps most famously as the stand in for the Hobbits in Lord of the Rings.
I read it as - and I think this sense grows more in season 3 and 4 - they're punch drunk and hooked on adrenalin.
 

Perpetual Man

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I've actually managed to watch a few more episodes this weekend. Unfortunately been rather distracted by that evil distraction Facebook to write anything up.
 

pambaddeley

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Commiserations. In my case, the evil distraction is Goodreads
 

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2.12 The Keeper by Allan Prior

In many ways this episode could be as cheesy as the previous episode, and yet it just manages to carry itself through sheer chutzpah. The location of Star One is somewhere on the planet Goth, hidden in plain sight around the neck of a member of the Royal Family.

Blake and Co. need it to take control of the super computer and through it the Federation.

Servalan and Travis are working together, so that they can become supreme controllers of everything.

The inhabitants of the planet are undergoing some internal power struggle…

The planet itself is very much primitive. I presume that the people originally came from Earth and have slowly regressed to a primitive state. Although the society seems a little too medieval, it is an interesting premise, that mankind has spread across the galaxy and yet have become a disparate society, different areas and planets at different levels of sophistication, whether by choice or war is left ambiguous. Thinking back to the start of the season where we saw the cold but advanced civilization that created the Liberator, it is a fine example of the opposite ends of the spectrum. It would have been nice to see this explored more.

There is some simple misdirection as there are more members of the royal family than initially shown, and the vying for attention in order to get into position to find the location is well done.

Jenna shines, slinky and seductive she has the king wrapped around her finger, as for once she is not only given something to do, but does it very well.

Travis manages to steal the show, metaphorically stabbing everyone in the back, getting the location and gone before anyone realizes that he has it.

However it seems that it is hidden in a second place, the mind of the Kings fool, who recites it in front of Blake and so the race to Star One is on.

The sets are weak, and the costumes are overly simplistic. There are a couple of wigs on show, and they actually look artificial. If there was a point when things began to tip then this is it.

There is a bit more conflict between Blake and Avon, as the latter describes just why he has gone out of his way to help Blake. He wants him gone and wants the Liberator, to that end he will risk everything in order to get it.

All the pieces are moved into place.
 

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2.13 Star One by Terry Nation

And so we reach the end of the second season.

Things are not cozy on Star One. Despite being the top secret central computer of the Federation it is manned, dedicated individuals who gave up their lives to live in exile and keep the machine running smoothly.

But it’s not.

It is starting to break down, and it would seem that some of the staff are behind it. Only they might not actually be the staff. In itself this a good enough idea for an episode, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Star One is located beyond the edge of our galaxy, in the expanse between the Milky Way and Andromeda. The belief that it is part of the system that keeps control of the Federation is only partially true, perhaps more importantly it controls a massive defensive barrier to keep invading aliens, the aggressive Andromedans out.

The complications come from Blake’s arrival and being mistaken for Travis.

Travis apparently changing his mind slightly, no longer content with controlling the Federation he wants to totally destroy it (this is probably my only complaint with the episode).

The whole thing turns everything on its head. Suddenly the Federation are potential allies. The aliens are the main threat. Blake and crew try to save Star One rather than destroy it.

It is a magnificent piece of changing the established status quo, and that is without the ongoing interpersonal bits that run through the episode. The feeling of dread from lone human on Star One, trying to work out why all her colleagues look the same but seem to be different.

The design of Star One is good. It looks big, imposing and I had to wonder if they had saved on their budget from previous episodes to build it.

Travis is back in Federation uniform. A bit of an odd choice, but I guess if he was going to go out in style, it would be as the very thing that was taken away from him.

The alien design is very ambiguous all we see is bubbling slime. I wonder if this was their intended appearance or whether we were just seeing them as they looked in death. (We do know that originally Terry Nation wanted them to be the Daleks…)

Continuing the pattern of a cliffhanger end of season, this is probably the best.

Travis shoots Blake.

Blake shoots Travis.

Travis gets up to shoot Blake dead, only to be shot by Avon.

He’s gone this time!

Blake puts rebellion behind him, and sends an emergency message to Servalan, informing her that Star One has fallen and war is coming. He is determined to hold the alien fleet off until Federation forces arrive.

Too wounded to stay on the bridge, he leaves Avon in command and despite everything he tells his rival, “Despite everything, I always trusted you.”

Something that has been analyzed from every different direction and back again.
 
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