ORBzine TV Review - "Blake's Seven" May 2002

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Blake's Seven
  • Gareth Thomas as Roj Blake [ 1-2 ]
  • Paul Darrow as Kerr Avon
  • Michael Keating as Vila Restal
  • Sally Knyvette as Jenna Stannis [ 1-2 ]
  • Jan Chappell as Cally [ 1-3 ]
  • David Jackson as Gan [ 1-2 ]
  • Peter Tuddenham as the voice of Orac / Zen / Slave
  • Jacqueline Pearce as Supreme Cmdr. Servalan
  • Stephen Greif as Space Cmdr. Travis [ 1 ]

    1st Series 1978

    Blake's Seven Blake's Seven [Season 1, Episode 1] The Way Back
    Original premiere 2nd January 1978

  • Blake's Seven Blake's Seven [Season 1, Episode 2] Space Fall
    Original premiere 9th January 1978

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 1, Episode 3] Cygnus Alpha [written by Terry Nation, creator of the Daleks]
    Reviewed first week, March 2000

    Last episode [Ep. 2?] Blake, Jenna and Avon escaped from the Federation prison ship on an unknown alien vessel. They now explore the ship, christen it the Liberator, and discover the resident AI, Zen. In another reference to Star Trek the evil Federation uses the Star Trek symbol, turned sideways.

    Blake beams down to the penal world, Cygnus Alpha, and tries to rescue Vila and the other prisoners. The colony is run by religious fanatics (including the babelicious Pamela Salem ) led by Brian Blessed ( Flash Gordon, SW: TPM ). Meanwhile, aboard the Liberator, Avon is intent on double-crossing his companions and escaping with his life and the loot.

    The worst thing about this show is that it indicates the malaise in British television. At time of writing (2000) it is over twelve years since Dr Who left us, and about twenty since B7 went. What has become of us?

    Blake's Seven Blake's Seven [Season 1, Episode 4] Time Squad
    Original Premiere 23rd January 1978

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 1, Episode 5] The Web
    Reviewed third week, March 2000

    New girl Cally (apparently an alien) is possessed, and forces the Liberator to fly into a silicate-based life-form reminiscent of a spider's web. In order to escape before the Federation pursuit ships reach them, Blake beams down to a research base (well, a bunch of tents in a forest) so he can trade with a creature that looks like a dalek without its motorized transporter. However, the creature and his assistants are besieged by a gang of ugly spud-faced midgets, genetic experiments gone wrong. Will the Ewoks storm the bunker? Will the Liberator escape? Guess.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 1, Episode 6] Seek - Locate - Destroy
    Reviewed fourth week, March 2000

    We actually get a plot involving the Federation! Blake takes the fight to the enemy, and leads an attack on a Federation communications station to steal a decoding machine. Unfortunately Cally gets separated from the others. She beats up a Fed trooper (in an extremely unconvincing scene!) and gets trapped when the demolition charges go off.

    The Federation's Supreme Military Commander, Servalan ( Jaqueline Pearce ), assigns the overzealous Space Commander Travis to hunt down the rebels. Travis only has half a face, on account of being shot in the head by Blake during a previous encounter.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season One, Episode 7] Mission To Destiny
    Reviewed First Week, April 2000

    This episode is a Whodunnit in space. Blake's team find and board an apparently derelict ship. They discover that the crew were gassed unconscious, the controls sabotaged and the pilot murdered.

    Blake takes the ship's valuable cargo to its destination while Avon and Cally stay aboard to complete repairs. But can Avon solve the murder before the killer strikes again?

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season One, Episode 8] Duel
    Reviewed Second Week, April 2000

    Space Commander Travis and his Federation pursuit ships corner the Liberator. Blake decides to ram his opponent, but just before the ships colide they are both frozen in space and their respective commanders are teleported to a nearby planet. Yes, this is a shameless rip-off of the Star Trek: TOS episode where Captain Kirk fights the Gorn. In fact, this episode was itself ripped off by the more recent Farscape , which in all fairness has far more sources than Blake's 7 (the notorious Trek rip-off) ever did.

    The good things about this episode? The babes, of course. The ringmasters include Isla Blair , later famous in the UK as a game-show hostess but most notable here for the fact that she is not wearing a bra. Travis' second in command is a babelicious mutoid, a modified human who had her memory wiped before she was enlisted into Federation military service. As an effect of the surgery she needs a special serum to survive, or failing that human blood will suffice ...

    This was an opportunity to develop Travis and characterise him with far more depth. Not to include spoilers, but Farscape did it all far better.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 1, Episode 9] Project Avalon
    Shown 27 Feb 78

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 1, Episode 10] Breakdown
    Shown 6 Mar 78

    Professor Kayn (Julian Glover - For Your Eyes Only )

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 1, Episode 11] Bounty
    Shown 13 Mar 78

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 1, Episode 12] Deliverance
    Shown 20 Mar 78

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 1, Episode 13] Orac
    Shown 27 Mar 78

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season , Episode ]
    Shown th 2007 [ Wednesday]

    This is reviewed in our special supplement here!


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  • Blake's Seven

    2nd Series 1979

  • Brian Croucher as Space Cmdr. Travis [ 2 ]

  • Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 1] Redemption
    Shown 9 Jan 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 2] Shadow
    Shown 16 Jan 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 3] Weapon
    Shown 23 Jan 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 4] Horizon
    Shown 30 Jan 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 5] Pressure Point
    Shown 6 Feb 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 6] Trial
    Shown 13 Feb 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 7] Killer
    Shown 20 Feb 79

    Tynus (Ronald Lacey - Raiders of the Lost Ark )

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 8] Hostage
    Shown 27 Feb 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 9] Countdown
    Shown 6 Mar 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 10] Voice from the Past
    Shown 13 Mar 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 11] Gambit
    Shown 20 Mar 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 12] The Keeper
    Shown 27 Mar 79

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 2, Episode 13] Star One
    Shown 3 Apr 79

    Blake's Seven

    3rd Series 1980

  • Steven Pacey as Del Tarrant [ 3-4 ]
  • Josette Simon as Dayna Mellanby [ 3-4 ]

  • Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 1] Aftermath
    Shown 7 Jan 80

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 2] Powerplay
    Shown 14 Jan 80

    Klegg (Michael Sheard - Star Wars: ESB )

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 3] Volcano
    Shown 21 Jan 80

    Hower (Michael Gough - Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix )

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 4] Dawn of the Gods
    Shown 28 Jan 80

    The Liberator is drawn off course, into what the crew think is a mysterious Black Hole on the edge of the galaxy. They discover it is the domain of an exiled god from Cally's homeworld.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 5] The Harvest of Kairos
    Shown 4 Feb 80

    Avon harvests some sentient rocks, and then Tarrant takes the Liberator to Kairos. His plan is to pirate the Federation's cargo ships which are loaded with The Harvest of Kairos. However, Servalan and the Federation are still after the Liberator.

    Servalan discovers that a mere minion is boasting about how easily he could defeat Tarrant. Instead of just killing the man, Jarvik, she confronts him - and discovers that he was Tarrant's commander before Tarrant went renegade. Jarvik was demoted to manual labourer as punishment. Now Servalan promotes him to Acting Major, and gives him three attack ships so he can defeat Tarrant.

    Jarvik is the greatest threat Tarrant and the others have faced, since it seems he can defeat any one of them on their own terms. Servalan decides he makes a great love interest. Will he become a regular cast member? After all, he would be a better recurring villain than Travis was. Or is he just a one-and-done?

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 6] City at the Edge of the World
    Shown 11 Feb 80

    Tarrant trades Vila to some supposedly peaceful natives, who apparently need a technician to upgrade their society's tech. Specifically, the ruins of their one-great civilisation known as the City at the Edge of the World.

    Avon is not so trusting, and plots the rescue of his sidekick. Dayna is not just a martial arts expert - she has built a drone the size of a toy car that functions as a remote-control mine. Like a small, wheeled MACLOS missile with a remote-control fuse.

    Vila ends up in the hands of space pirates. The pirate Captain, Bayban (Colin Baker - Dr Who ), is a vicious bastard who wants Vila to open a vault door. Of course, Vila is a professional thief so the challenge itself motivates him more than the Captain's threats.

    Vila is also motivated by a female pirate, Kerril ( Carol Hawkins ), who makes a great love interest. Will she become a new crew member? Or will she be trapped at the other end of a teleporter, three thousand light years away?

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 7] Children of Auron
    Shown 19 Feb 80

    Servalan captures a primitive one-man ship from Planet Auron, better known as Cally's homeworld. They are telepathic isolationists who have been paranoid ever since the Federation breakup. This makes them an obstacle in Servalan's plan to reunify the Federation, and obtaining the Aurons' unique cloning technology, so she doses the pilot (Michael Troughton - ) with a bio-warfare agent. Since the planet has been isolated for three decades, the fertile generation has no resistance to disease so there is no need to use a particularly deadly virus.

    Avon takes the Liberator to Earth, to get revenge on a Federation Investigator named Shrinker who killed Avon's friend - a woman named Anna Grant. However, they have to alter course when Cally gets a telepathic signal. Like Obi-Wan in Star Wars: ANH , she senses millions of voices crying out in terror. Also, her clone-sister has a telepathic bond with her. This is a very convenient form of FTL communication.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 8] Rumours of Death
    Shown 25 Feb 80

    Avon returns to Earth, to get his hands on a Federation interrogator named Shrinker. It is Avon's belief that Shrinker tortured Avon's lover to death. However, Shrinker convinces Avon that the woman was never even arrested. The whole mission was under the control of Servalan's Agency. As a result, Avon goes looking for Servalan herself.

    Servalan is at her new mansion, which has a perimeter fitted with CCTV cameras. The security room is run by Major Grenlee (Donald Douglas), who has a Northern Ireland accent but is actually from Scotland.

    The twist is that Avon is not Servalan's only enemy. Sula ( Lorna Heilborn ) has allied herself with a group of rebels, and they launch a raid to capture Servalan's home. The show ends in a Mexican stand-off between two groups of anti-Federation rebels, while the former dictator of the Galactic Federation has been easily defeated. Since this episode was made shortly after Margaret Thatcher came to power, it seems perfectly normal to have not one but TWO female antagonists!

    This episode is quite reminiscent of Secret Army, another BBC show which was produced at the same time as this show. The story actually makes more sense if one considers the rival rebels to be the Communist Resistance, while Servalan's role might be better suited to a low-level Nazi officer.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 9] Sarcophagus
    Shown 3 Mar 80

    The Liberator detects an alien spaceship. Avon insists on investigating further. Cally is negatively affected due to her telepathic abilities.

    Avon, Vila and Cally beam over to investigate the alien ship, which turns out to be a floating mausoleum. When they return to the Liberator, it seems that they have brought some kind of sinister ghostly prescence with them. Yes, this is a ghost story of sorts.

    Cally seems to have recovered from the loss of her sister. Avon lost a love interest in the previous episode, and Vila was likewise unlucky in love. However, none of them seem too disturbed by any of their losses. A pity, as this is the kind of slow-moving episode where such matters could be dealt with it is certainly a missed opportunity.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 10] Ultraworld
    Shown 10 Mar 80

    The Liberator detects an alien spaceship. Avon insists on investigating further. Cally is negatively affected due to her telepathic abilities. Yes, the crew learned absolutely NOTHING from the previous episode!

    The alien vessel is called Ultraworld, peopled by humanoids who are avatars of the central computer core. It turns out that Ultraworld's mission is to absorb the minds of any individuals it encounters, making them part of a collective. Yes, this seems to be the inspiration for the Borg from Star Trek: TNG . However, the Borg's famous war-cry Resistance is futile was clearly inspired by The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy .

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 11] Moloch
    Shown 17 Mar 80

    The Liberator crew are shadowing Servalan's flagship, as it leaves the rest of the fleet and travels alone into deep space. Some of the crewmembers tend to say things like We should have killed her when we had the chance, and this is exactly the kind of chance they mean. Predictably, every chance they have to kill her is squandered. Despite that, they always express homocidal thoughts towards her while never actually acting on those thoughts.

    Servalan's mission was to meet the new leader of the Fifth Legion. It turns out that most of the senior officers were killed, along with almost everyone else. A low-ranking field-grade officer, Section Leader Grose, is now in charge of what remains of the Legion. However, instead of swearing loyalty to Servalan he decides to mutiny against her. This is the most recent mutiny since the one a few episodes back, and she really does not seem to have learned anything.

    Grose and his men have captured a planet where the natives have developed Star Trek level force-field technology. They can replicate technological items, although not living creatures - so they are not up to the Liberator's level of transporter technology. However, Grose already has what he needs to create his own Legion. A nearby prison planet can supply conscripts from its massive population of convicts, and the replicators can produce whatever weapons and ships are necessary to equip them.. Instead of spending years training the conscripts, he simply mechanises the whole process. The planetary super-computer, Moloch (Deep Roy - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ), can programme the ships with all the necessary responses. Since the ships' computers are voice-activated, the conscripts simply have to issue verbal commands and the ship will automatically carry them out.

    Vila and Tarrant beam down to investigate. This pairing is a complete mistake, as Vila would rather hang out with a convicted serial killer than with Tarrant.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 12] Death-Watch
    Shown 24 Mar 80

    Vila tries to talk the others into taking some time off. His idea is to attend a duel to the death, which is served up as a spectator sport. Ironically, two of the people involved have links to the Liberator crew - so the team have good reason to get involved anyway.

    Two small interstellar unions have gone to war. Rather than waste valuable assets in a violent conflict, each side nominates a champion and they will fight to the death. Since both sides border on the Terran Federation, the supposedly neutral third party is Servalan. Avon beams down to investigate her agenda, so she tries to seduce him. He also allows Dayna a chance to confront Servalan, who she holds responsible for the murder of her father. Yes, once again the crew talk of assassinating Servalan although they never bother to actually go through with it.

    One of the contestants is Tarrant's brother, who seems to be identical but with a different wig. This is the kind of personal link that is often brought up in this show. To keep the budget low, Tarrant and his brother never appear on-screen together.

    The duel is set on a space station with a series of different environments to choose from. Of course, the one the computer randomly picks is a disused warehouse ... pretty much a standard setting for a UK TV cop show of the era. What sets this above the other shows tech-wise is the form the Reality TV system takes. Each contestant is telepathically broadcasting to the entire crowd, sixteen million viewers. It must go both ways, because Cally manages to talk to one of the contestants while she is only supposed to be telepathic with people from the same world as her.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 3, Episode 13] Terminal
    Shown 31 Mar 80

    Avon takes the Liberator off-course, because of a mysterious signal he has somehow been receiving. When the rest of the crew find out, they reluctantly agree to follow the signal. It turns out they have been summoned to a mysterious planet named Terminal, which was believed to have been destroyed 411 years previously.

    Avon beams down alone, with the agreement to call in every hour on the hour. If he misses a call-in, they are under orders to leave at top speed. Dayna points out that all the crew owe Avon their lives, which means that their loyalty to him is personal. Avon is not a friendly chap even at the best of times. He implicitly threatens to kill Tarrant, then explicitly threatens to kill anyone who follows him. Hard to believe they could have personal loyalty to such a cold-blooded man. However, they all have a personal code which seems to be what Avon relies on.

    The planet Terminal was created as a test-bed for human evolution. This was shown on different planets in this Season. On one they ascended as energy beings, like in Star Trek: TOS , while the other one had the humanoids evolving into dalek-like creatures from Doctor Who .

    Avon beams down, and discovers a strange underground civilisation. Tarrant and Cally secretly follow him, although they miss the opportunity to gather info and allies. Instead they allow a potential threat to go unchecked. Meanwhile, Dayna and Vila try to keep the ship together.

    The climax is a great ending for the entire Series, tying up all the plot threads. Unfortunately the show got renewed for another Season, which led on to the assumption it would get a fifth Season. This meant Season Four would end on the biggest cliffhanger since The Italian Job (1969) .

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 1] Rescue
    Shown 28 Sep 81

    This takes up after the events of the previous episode. The team are marooned, safe in underground living quarters but endangered by primitive natives on the surface. Unfortunately they are caught by Servalan's self-destruct device, and Cally dies a horrible off-screen death. Yes, yet one more reason this should should have ended with Season Three.

    A lot has changed since the end of the previous Season. To start with, the old title sequence heavily featured the spaceship Liberator and since the ship is now gone, the new title sequence features a ship's navigational display instead. The show is soft rebooted in other ways too. Since the Liberator and its AI, Zen, are gone the crew get access to a ship called Scorpio and its AI named Slave. The Liberator's belt-powered weapons are gone, but Scorpio's weapons locker is filled with silver-finished mauser pistols. They are not energy weapons, but rather they have a selection of projectiles available in a collection of colour-coded magazines.

    At Dorian's base the team meet his companion, Soolin ( Glynis Barber ). She is a very skilled pistol-fighter who loves underground, so she is a lot like a blonde version of Dayna. Yes, the jump-the-shark trope of adding a hot blonde in Season Four is actually at play in this show.

    Doctor Who stories of this period tended to have strong elements of gothic horror, in the vein of the Hammer House of Horror This is no exception, with the twist being a science fiction version of The Picture of Dorian Grey .

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 2] Power
    Shown 5 Oct 81

    This takes up after the events of the previous episode. The team are marooned again, safe in underground living quarters but endangered by primitive natives on the surface.

    Avon goes out exploring, and gets captured by hostile tribesmen. They offer him a chance to become their leader - if he can defeat the current leader in a fight to the death! Meanwhile Vila is left alone, trying to get through the doorway into the ship hangar. Soolin ( Glynis Barber ), the new character, has headed off and does not appear in the episode until the end. This probably has a production-related reason, as this would have been a great opportunity to introduce the new character some more.

    There are two tribes of locals - male Homiks and the female Seskas. Yes, this is a literal battle of the sexes. The males are violent thugs, while the women are sneakier and manipulative.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 3] Traitor
    Shown 12 Oct 81

    Avon discovers that the Feds have somehow re-conquered Hellatrix, the first colony to gain independence from the Terran Federation. He takes the crew there to find out how this happened.

    Colonel Quute (Christopher Neame - Babylon 5 ), the Federation's top interrogator, has perfected a new form of brainwashing. When used on the locals, including any captured rebels, it makes them incredibly docile and suggestable. Neame was best known at the time for his role as an SOE officer in Secret Army, but now he plays a Gestapo-type character.

    Tarant and Dayna beam down to investigate. They team up with Avandir (Neil Dickson - Biggles (1986) ) and the Resistance. When they infiltrate the lab where the brainwashing drug is made, they discover its manufacturer a mad, mutilated scientist trapped in a wheelchair. He is clearly a take on Davros, creator of the daleks in Doctor Who ), but his obsession with blowing himself up is reminiscent of a character from the US crime show Breaking Bad.

    The Federation have some internal political disputes, and a conspiracy involving assassination. The mysterious Commissioner Sleer seems to be running things, now that Empress Servalan has been declared dead.

    There is a lot of violence in this episode, but it is of the unrealistic and child-friendly kind. Characters die, but they never bleed or show any pain. After all, this was family viewing before the watershed. The weapons used were of the sci-fi variety, so children could not imitate it.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 4] Stardrive
    Shown 19 Oct 81

    The ship needs more fuel, so Avon tries to sneak it into a well-guarded star system. His plan is to sneak the ship behind a billion-ton asteroid. Unfortunately, it all goes wrong. Vila gets drunk rather than find himself getting ordered to save the day.

    Three Federation ships are on patrol nearby, and mysteriously explode. Orac checks the sensor logs, detects an anomaly, but refuses to tell Avon and the others what it is. In other words, the AI system is more trouble than it is worth. Dayna points out that the visual scanners save ten thousand frames per second, so Avon orders the crew to take turns checking each frame.

    Soolin discovers the Federation ships were shot by a small fighter-craft. The fighter was equipped with a photonic drive a new experimental space drive system using light instead of plasma to make thrust. Vila identifies the pilot as a member of a gang called the Space Rats.

    Avon sends Vila and Dayna down to planet Caspar to search for a secret base. He considers them expendable, as long as he obtains the new stardrive for Scorpio. They are just a diversion for his heist plan. Yes, Avon is a cold-blooded bastard - and this episode shows him at his worst.

    Dr. Plaxton ( Barbara Shelley ) has teamed up with the Space Rats gang, and uses them as test-pilots for her experiments. The Space Rats only care about speed and violence, but their leader wants to control the space trade routes perhaps as a space pirate, or even as Emperor of the galaxy.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 5] Animals
    Shown 26 Oct 81

    Tarrant takes Dayna for a joyride in the Scorpio, and drops her off at planet Buccol-2. Her father's friend lives there, and he is a scientist who has expertise in operations in highly radioactive areas. It turns out that his answer to cleaning up the planets that were rendered uninhabitable during the interstellar war is to genetically engineer a bunch of humanoid creatures. Yes, this episode's gothic horror story is The Island of Doctor Moreau .

    The Scorpio is spotted by a Federation patrol. Tarrant gets away by using the new super-speed engines. Unfortunately, this brings the matter to the attention of Commissioner Sleer. She manages to get her hands on Dayna, and uses one of the Federation's brainwashing technologies on her.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 6] Headhunter
    Shown 2 Nov 81

    Tarrant and Vila have been sent off to planet Pharos, where they are to exfiltrate a scientist named Muller. He works in a secret lab run by the Robot Development Corporation, presumably the local version of Mom's Friendly Robot Company from Futurama . Meanwhile, Avon plays host to Muller's woman Vena ( Lynda Bellingham ).

    The exfiltration runs smoothly, and Vila gets Muller to the Scorpio. Things only go awry when Tarrant gets sticky fingered, and brings a box up from the robotics lab as a souvenir. Muller runs amok, and ends up in a cryo-tube capsule. However, Slave - the artificial intelligence that runs the Scorpio - and all the systems it runs start to go amok as well.

    Orac orders Soolin to hide him somewhere. He detects that something is coming for him, although he will not tell Avon the exact nature of the threat. It turns out that Muller was the protege of Orac's designer. Therefore Muller's project must be Orac's replacement, the most powerful AI in existence. Of course, this disregards the human-imitating robot that killed Tarrant's brother in Season Three.

    The trope of the artificial intelligence that goes on a rampage is at least as old as Frankenstein's Monster . The idea of the robot that wears its creator's severed head is used in Saturn Three , which came out around the same time as this episode.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 7] Assassin
    Shown 9 Nov 81

    The Scorpio crew intercept a message from Servalan to a freelance assassin codenamed Cancer, taking out a contract on five targets. Yes, she has finally decided to privatise the hunt for Avon's crew. They decide to get ahead of the game, and follow her to planet Doma. It is the haunt of space pirates and slave-traders, so Avon pretends to have crash-landed so he can get captured by the pirates.

    The slave-auction seems a bit primitive, but the handful of bidders each represent at least fifty clients. Each bidder has a voice-link to all their clients in some kind of conference call, and repeats aloud what the client's bid is. Not bad for a hand-held interstellar communications device.

    Avon, Tarrant and Soolin capture Cancer, and tie him up on his own ship. A couple of rescued slaves come along for the ride, including an old man who looks like William Hartnell ( Doctor Who ). However, Cancer somehow gets loose and tries to pick them off one at a time. The rule with this show seems to be that all the guest stars are killed off.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 8] Games
    Shown 16 Nov 81

    Avon receives a message from a minion he was blackmailing. The minion discovered that a Federation employee has been hoarding crystals that have infinite throughput of energy. These crystals can focus any energy source, such as starlight, and turn it into enough usable energy to power a planetary civilisation. Naturally, Commissioner Sleer turns up to audit the supply source.

    The crystals are secured by a system that can be unlocked through playing games. Soolin is a quick-draw artist, and Tarrant can pass a flight simulator test. Vila knows how to get around a fingerprint scanner by using a method that MacGuyver would use a decade later. But can Avon work out what is really going on?

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 9] Sand
    Shown 23 Nov 81

    Servalan gets a message from a survey team on Planet Virn. The team was lost five years previously, but finally she has received word of their fate. Now she makes it her top priority to investigate.

    Orac intercepts Servalan's communications. Avon realises that something valuable is on the planet, which is what the survey team discovered, and the team votes unanimously to deprive the Federation of it. Tarrant beams down so the rest can stay in orbit aboard Scorpio, while Servalan's ship crash-lands.

    Rather than gothic horror or a straight-up World War Two storyline, this episode has some hard-edged science fiction of a superior kind. Something on the planet has made the computers go haywire, and slowly killed the humans. Now the same thing begins to happen to the new intruders, until only Tarrant and Servalan are left. Ironically it is Tarrant rather than Avon or Servalan who is first to work out what is really going on.

    Tarrant and Servalan start to bond. She tells him how she survived the Liberator's demise, and also of her backstory with the long-dead Captain Keller from the survey team. Yes, for a moment she is humanised by the storyline. The others later chastise him for not killing her when he had the chance but in previous episodes everyone except Soolin has had the chance, and Soolin is the only one without a grudge against Servalan ...

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 10] Gold
    Shown 30 Nov 81

    Keiller (Roy Kinnear - Return of the Three Musketeers ), purser of an interstellar passenger liner, contacts Avon and offers him a deal. It turns out that the passenger ship's cargo hold is not just filled with fruit. Instead, the boxes of fruit are filled with gold. Keiller demands a fifty-fifty split. After all, he is the inside man and he has the plan. Avon and the others all agree, although Vila is paranoid about being betrayed or double-crossed.

    The first step is to break into the ore-processing plant on the ship's homeworld. Although this is meant to be a stealth mission, so they can get in and out without being noticed, they start to leave a massive trail of bodies behind them.

    Keiller is an interesting character. He seems obsessed with Soolin ( Glynis Barber ), and who can blame him? But he also has a concealed hard edge. Will he break the show's curse, and become the first Guest Star to survive an episode? After all, it would be nice to see him as a recurring character.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 11] Orbit
    Shown 7 Dec 81

    Avon has been summoned by a mad scientist. Strangely, Avon did not bother to do a background check on the man. Yes, for some reason it is Tarrant who has to provide exposition on the scientist.

    Avon In the previous episode, the fat middle-aged white man took a liking to Soolin. This time it is Vila who is offered a special role.

    The shuttle is sabotaged by the weight being increased to the point that the engines cannot create enough thrust to achieve exit velocity of Mach Fifteen. Tarrant wants to save them, but the teleporter cannot get a lock on a fast-moving target.

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 12] Warlord
    Shown 14 Dec 81

    Avon hosts a meeting of the five most powerful enemies of the Federation. Rather than call themselves The Resistance, they are more like the League of Non-Aligned Worlds.

    One of the officers is a Warlord's daughter, who becomes Tarrant's love interest for the week. When her father discovers that she is present, he insists she be escorted back to his homeworld. Although Avon agrees, Soolin conspires to teleport the woman off the Scorpio. Avon must be over-stressed by the conference, because he has missed a couple of pre-planned double-crosses.

    Tarrant, Villa and Dayna get trapped with a radioactive airborne virus. Avon and Soolin are safe on the Scorpio, but their options for saving the others are limited..

    Blake's Seven Blake's 7 [Season 4, Episode 13] Blake
    Shown 21 Dec 81

    After the events of the previous episode, the gang abandon their base on planet Xenon. It was only a matter of time before one of the resistance leaders betrayed them. Which raises the question, why did Avon hold his conference there? Well, it turns out that he has a plan to get a bigger and better front-man for his rebellion against the Federation. Now he has an excuse to take the whole crew to look for the man he has in mind.

    The planet Avon is heading to is Gauda Prime, an open world which became a safe haven for all the outlaws in the sector. Now a stranger who looks like Blake is hanging out there. Is he an outlaw or a bounty hunter? The only certainty is that he is facially disfigured, and now looks reminiscent of his old enemy Travis.

    A patrol of gunships intercepts the Scorpio. Vila saves the crew by suggesting they teleport to safety. Unfortunately Tarrant has to stay at the controls, so he is still aboard when the ship crash-lands.

    Eventually the survivors all meet up again, and Avon confronts Blake. Will they reunite under the banner of the Resistance, or will their turn against each other? The result is the most messed-up ending to any TV show ever. Decades after it first aired, it is still seared into the minds of those who saw the original broadcast.