Many spoilers in this second instalment of Alex’s Discovery of Blake’s 7.
So I was just getting comfortable with the idea of the prison ship towards the end of episode 2 when all of a sudden Blake, Avon, and the woman whose name I am still unsure of are in charge of an alien ship, running away from the prison transport and, somewhat bizarrely, towards Cygnus Alpha to pick up the other prisoners, so that they have a crew. Episode 3 opens with the three of them getting to know the ship, which includes interacting with a computer that, to my SF-cynical and AI-alert eyes, is exhibiting every symptom of a little bit too much intelligence for my liking (I couldn’t help but be suspicious when there was a room full of clothes for the humans to change into). As well as getting used to the navigational system, which is a whole lot faster than they were expecting, our heroes also discover a set of bracelets… which they somehow determine as likely to be transport devices (and hello, Stargate seems to owe something to Blake’s!), which Blake bravely decides to experiment with. Because they are now orbiting Cygnus Alpha, and it’s time to figure out how to get some prisoners back off again.
Of course, things are not hunky dory on the prison planet – how could they be? – and this is when things got all mind-bendy on me. Because from the original colonists has grown a lovely little cult which every new arrival is forced to join, or die. The prisoners are in the process of being introduced to their new way of life, including being told that they now have a deadly disease that can only be managed with a local drug (lies, all lies). There is, eventually, an awesome battle involving most of the prisoners, Blake, random priests and the leader of the cult – the mighty Brian Blessed, who is magnificent in this rather bizarre role.
This was quite a weird episode, although it does continue to develop the various characters. I am still loving Avon, much to Tansy’s delight; the fact that he very nearly convinces the woman to leave without Blake, when he is overdue from reporting in, is a measure of just tricksy he is likely to be. I’m really appreciating that there is a genuine diversity in the types of characters, from the cowardly to the brave and so on. Also, the woman is so the only pilot – I really hope that continues!
A sabotage mission and a rescue mission – this crew certainly like balancing their copy sheet.
I really thought, when I saw the two aliens in the cryo pod, that here would be Blake’s 6th and 7th. Instead they’re homicidal maniacs.
Gan is turning into a far more interesting character than I had initially anticipated. I thought he was going to be simply the brawn, but it was he who had the thought about the computer, Zen, having some sort of limiter on it, preventing it from helping the crew too much, and then his discussion of having to stay with Blake in order to survive (plus the view of his skull with something implanted in it, which turns out to be a limited so that he is incapable of killing)… well. I hope he develops more. The idea of a brain implant to control behaviour is yet another example of how evil the Federation is, and reinforces the need for what Blake etc are doing on Saurian 4 – destroying the interplanetary communication capabilities of the Federation as a whole.
Ooh, a female human-but-alien telepathic resistance fighter on Saurian 4! … unfortunately falls for very old tricks when fighting. Anyway, rather than suiciding in a blaze of glory she ends up helping our heroes. And joins the crew, completing the complement – because Blake counts Zen as a member. So, 2 women, 4 men, and a computer. Actually not bad for 1978. Sad they had to make Jenna (remembered her name!) a bit suspicious of Cally, because it can’t help but read as jealousy….
I’m loving Jenna’s boots.