It’s been a while, but tonight was the perfect opportunity to get into another episode of Blake’s 7, followed hopefully by a bit of Deadly Premonition on the XBox. I’ve been busy working on my second book and the stuff I’ve been doing for tasteofcinema.com but I thought it was long past time I did another one of these. I don’t have to worry so much about grammar and I can be as subjective as I like. After I did the last one, I saw a pointed comment on one of the fan sites about there being too many of these “rewatch” posts floating around. If that was you, I apologise that I am jumping on the bandwagon. Feel free to stop reading at any point. I’m doing this because I love it. I love Blake’s 7 and I want to share the experience of going through it again. I’m revelling in the great plot, writing, acting and the sheer fun of it all. And yes, if I see the blatant use of a dummy, I’m going to point it out. So, here goes…
Season 2 – Episode 2 – Shadow
We open with a nice model of a space station containing some modern art and populated by a couple of urchins and a well-dressed dude called Largo (Bond reference anyone?). he’s got a big orange marble which he refers to as Shadow that the urchins seem to be desperate for. Oh, it’s a drug of some kind that they’re addicted to.
Largo’s a member of the Terra Nostra. One of the urchins has a gun thingy and they manage to get the stuff off him, but something tells me this isn’t going to end well for them. They’re trying to escape and, just in the nick of time, the Liberator hoves into view. Time to check in with the crew. Jenna’s got a nice purple top on and Avon’s gone full silver. Turns out they’re here because Blake (ever the man of principle) wants to use the Terra Nostra, which is sounding like some cartel, to infiltrate Earth. I know. They’re the good drug dealers. The enemy of my enemy is… actually still a nasty piece of work. Gan’s not happy about this and Avon isn’t either though he’s pretending to be cool with it. The more I see of this, the more Blake begins to look like a fanatic as opposed to a hero. Well done, Gan for calling him out on it.
So, it turns out Jenna has worked for this Largo fellow before in a Keyser Soze kind of way (she met him and he’s not the overall kingpin so not that much like Keyser Soze, but I wanted a Keyser Soze reference). Her job was to smuggle Shadow but she turned it down. Avon says this was wise as there’s a mandatory death sentence for carrying it, but Jenna says that wasn’t the reason she turned down the job. She’s got standards. Seems everyone but Blake does.
The urchins are still waiting around to try to make their escape and we get a look at the effects of Shadow. One of their friends has died from it and turned a nasty shade of blue. They’re all cut up about it but don’t have time to reflect as a man with frilly cuffs and a gun has the drop on them. Uh-oh. They’re going back to Largo. Told you this wouldn’t end well.
Vila and Cally have a little debate on the Liberator to give us some more information about the Terra Nostra and Blake. Vila persuades ORAC to teleport him over to the station so he can see it for himself.
Blake, Avon and Jenna are busy having a meeting with Largo in order to gain his support but he’s playing them along. Time for a bit of classic Avon, complete with the knowing grin.
Largo – Why do I feel as if I’m on trial here?
Avon – Why do I feel as if you should be?
Blake decides this is all a waste of time but it’s too late. largo’s frilly cuffed assistant is there with his gun, leaving Blake to rue not listening to Gan. largo takes their guns and then gives Jenna a judo chop on her shoulder to relieve her of her teleport bracelet.
There’ll be some deserved comeback for that later, I’m sure. Can’t wait.
Meanwhile, Cally finds out that Vila has gone to the space station and hidden ORAC. She calls but he’s acting really weird and doesn’t want to be disturbed from… whatever it is that he’s up to. Poor Cally. As if getting wound up by Vila isn’t enough, now ORAC is threatening to cut off her life support if she tries to find where he’s been hidden. then again, as I’ve said before, she’s supposed to be able to read minds. Wasn’t it obvious that Vila was going to pull some dumb stunt in order to get over to the space station. Good thing he needs to be there in order to save the others.
Avon and Gan are locked in the same cell as the urchins (why those two haven’t just been killed is a mystery given what they did – oh wait, she just explained – he’s making an example of them).
Where’s Blake? Largo’s forcing him to call the Liberator and ask them to send over all the rest of the money. Blake asks Cally to send Zen over with the money and Largo sees right through the subterfuge, if admittedly for the wrong reasons. Blake feeds him some other line about how many shuttles the Liberator has and then Largo immediately tests Cally to find out if he’s lying. Then, after a long pause, CALLY READS SOMEONE’S MIND.
She can do it from miles away. So how come she didn’t cotton on to the fact that Vila was going to have it on his toes before? He was being so obvious about it.
Largo decides to kill Blake and the others, keeping Jenna alive. Cally figures out what’s going to happen and calls the space station threatening to fire on them if they don’t release the others. The “Duty Officer” on the other end of the line is blatantly Michael Keating. Couldn’t they just have got some crew member to read the line? It’s so obviously his voice. That’s just cheap, BBC!
Credit Cally on this one. She’s not taking any nonsense. The station sends a gunship at them and she blows it to bits without a second thought. Go Cally!
It’s not necessary for her to follow up on her threat as Avon and Gan get the better of their guard and reach Blake in time to release Blake and Jenna just as the “Duty Officer” is telling Largo to release them. The urchins ask to come with them but Blake isn’t having that and they leave them there (presumably to face a grizzly death at the hands of a very annoyed Largo – couldn’t they just have dropped them somewhere safer? Wouldn’t have taken them long? Cold).
Wait a minute. I had this all wrong. I figured Vila was going to stumble in and save them, didn’t I? Now it turns out it’s going to be him who needs saving. It’s the “shall we leave him behind” discussion coming up any minute…
Oh, hang on. I’m wrong again. In the time it took me to write this, Blake has come back to the urchins, telling them that he’s changed his mind about ditching them (he so would have) because he needs their help to find Vila.
Back on the ship, another bit of classic Avon. Gan says that he can’t find ORAC and even tried calling his name.
Avon – Oh, I’m sorry I missed that. It’s the kind of natural stupidity that no amount of training could ever hope to match.
Blake hasn’t learned his lesson and now wants to take on the Terra Nostra by force despite a bit of verbal from Avon and Gan. Meanwhile, Cally stum,bles upon ORAC and something weird happens (Sapphire and Steel level weirdness) as she gets “trapped” somewhere.
Largo is back on the space station making his excuses to the boss and explaining how one of the urchins is in fact his agent. The boss happens to be the butler dude from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – if you are Scottish lord then I am MICKEY MOUSE. Quality! Knew I recognised his voice.
Turns out Shadow is made from cacti that grow on the planet Zondar. This is getting a Dune sort of vibe now. Blake wants to control the supply. He who controls the spice, controls the Universe. Avon rightly points out the fact that the Federation should know about Zondar since they found out so easily. Presumably, the Federation are in on this drug business too.
Back on the space station, Frilly cuffs has had enough of Largo and performed a hostile takeover which I can only assume involved some form of mustard. Bye Largo. That’s what you get for judo chopping a woman. We won’t miss you.
Cally’s been found and is unresponsive. Blake doesn’t seem bothered and Jenna rightly pulls him up on it but he’s too worried about other matters, like yelling at Vila. Nobody seems to like or agree with Blake in this episode. It does make me wonder why they’re going along with this.
Time to get outdoors. We’ve been indoors for the whole episode so what better than a trip to the Binnegar Heath sandpits, near Wareham, Dorset (otherwise known as the planet Zondar). Blake, Avon and Jenna wander around for a while, find some telepathic moving disks (I must have missed something) and move on.
ORAC is having some more weird dialogue with Cally then she runs to the teleport and down to the surface of the planet. Not sure where this is going… Whilst Blake and the others plant receivers to help the battle computers know what to shoot at on the planet, Cally collapses in a ditch and gets approached by one of the telepathic disks.
Avon deals with a couple of guards, but back on the Liberator, ORAC has taken control of the ship and is bringing it down. One of the urchins tries to intervene and gets a bit killed for her troubles. On the planet, the disks are all over Cally. Something is working between ORAC, Cally and the disks and it is this, I suspect, that is bringing down the Liberator. Ghost Cally steps out of her body in a Patrick Swayze kind of way and manages to disconnect ORAC before waking up again with the disks. If the last paragraph reads as confusing, that’s because I’m confused. maybe I’ve missed something while I’ve been writing, but I don’t quite get what has been going on.
Anyway, Blake and the others escape the guards and Cally joins them. They’re all standing around ORAC and I’m hoping Avon is going to explain, in his silky tomes, exactly what I just witnessed. Cally’s doing it. OK that makes sense. Turns out it was an alien lifeform trying to bridge into our universe using ORAC. Avon does chip in with another classic though, couched in his utter frustration at Vila’s simplistic explanation of what happened.
Avon – (sighing heavily) The plain man’s guide to alien invasion!
Cally was a threat and that’s why she was attacked.
So, well, time to get back to the Terra Nostra then. Avon’s discovered proof of the link between the Federation and the Terra Nostra.
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold on.. I interrupt this rewatch to bring you the most cold-blooded thing Blake has done yet. He’s going to take the remaining urchin back to where he came from. For all Blake knows, Largo is still there. Frilly cuffs is in charge there now, but he’ll just as surely kill him. But it’s OK. Blake says he’ll come and check on him in three years. Don’t want to rain on your parade, Blake, but the guy’s not going to last three hours and I think you know that!
The Federation ships are approaching, so it’s time to blow up the drug garden on the planet and get out of there.
This was the first episode written by Chris Boucher and I really enjoyed it. I have to say that the ORAC/Alien thing felt like it was unnecessary as the central plot was good enough to hold the episode. Other than that, it was a good premise with lots of moral ambiguity, lots of Avon being cool and CALLY READ SOMEONE’S MIND.
See you next time. You can check out the rest of my Blake’s 7 posts here if you missed any.