As serious as Cancer…
Vila has some bad news for Scorpio‘s crew.
Sue: Is it just me or is Avon tired? They’ve plastered him in make-up to try and hide it, but he looks like he’s knackered. And stressed.
A familiar voice stresses him out even more.
Servalan: Utiliser to Cancer, Utiliser to Cancer. Domo the ninth, five subjects. Utiliser to Cancer, Utiliser to Cancer. Domo the ninth, five subjects.
Sue: Oh joy.
This radio message, which has been intercepted by Vila, sounds like gibberish. Or does it..?
Sue: Well, there are five of them so they must be the subjects. Why do they keep drawing attention to the fact that they always seem to be two people short.
Domo is a planet, the ninth is a date, but who or what is Cancer?
Tarrant: (to Avon) You know about Cancer.
Sue: This is a cheerful start to the episode.
Cancer is a man.
Sue: What a stupid name. I bet he doesn’t go on many dates.
Cancer is a professional assassin.
Sue: OK, fair enough. He’s using a made-up name, like a professional wrestler.
Meanwhile, in Servalan’s floating bingo hall…
Sue: This is what every good spaceship needs: sexy mood lighting.
Me: Forget the plasma bolts, has it got a dimmer switch?
Servalan confers with her captain.
Sue: That man is so tall, I’m surprised Servalan doesn’t sprain her neck every time she gives him an order.
Servalan instructs her captain to lay in a course for the planet Domo.
Sue: If she’s still pretending to be somebody else, how is she paying for all this? And why has she put a contract out on Avon? I thought she wanted to rule the universe with him, or has she changed her mind about that? I mean, how much of a threat is Avon supposed to be?
Me: Well, considering that all the experts that Avon has tried to recruit are dead, not much.
The crew turn to Orac for some advice.
Orac: You must find this Cancer before he finds you.
Sue: Good idea, Orac. Preventive medicine is always the best course of action. I’m willing to bet good money that either the writer had cancer, or they knew someone who had cancer when they wrote this. It’s basically a metaphor for cancer.
Avon teleports to the planet Domo, where he allows himself to be captured by slave traders. Their leader, Benos (who Sue mistakes for a very young Jeremy Irons), takes possession of Avon’s teleport bracelet.
Sue: Typical. They’ve got this incredible technology that can beam you down to alien planets, but they can’t invent a bracelet that doesn’t fall off your wrist if you so much as look at it.
Avon ends up sharing a cell with a slave named Nebrox.
Sue: Is that William Hartnell?
I pretend not to hear her.
Sue: Is it, you know. It’s William Hartnell. Look!
Me: It isn’t William Hartnell. William Hartnell’s dead.
Sue: Well, it doesn’t half look like William Hartnell. It’s uncanny. He even sounds like him.
I pause the DVD and put her out of her misery.
Me: Oh yeah. I’d completely forgotten about that. Still, you can see why JNT hired him to play the part after he saw him in this. The resemblance is spooky. He’s even playing this part like the Doctor. He’s more like the Doctor here than he ever was in Doctor Who. He’s really good.
Nebrox begs Avon to trust him.
Sue: Oh, and he’s definitely Cancer. I bet you anything.
Servalan has the best seat in the house at Domo’s slave auction.
Sue: This reminds me of Game of Thrones, but without the sunshine. Yeah, it’s an off-season Games of Thrones. Those two bare-chested men with the fans – they must be freezing their bollocks off.
Domo looks like every other barren shit hole we’ve visited.
Sue: Did Rosie work on this episode? Oh, she did? Bollocks. This is not good.
Nebrox and Avon share a meal.
Nebrox: It’s mangon. It’s a sort of stew made from fungus. It takes some getting used to, but it’s really very nourishing.
Sue: Whatever they’re paying him to eat that slop, it isn’t enough. Paul Darrow won’t go anywhere near it.
Me: And Paul Darrow eats MDF for breakfast.
Nebrox describes Servalan to Avon. Well, sort of.
Nebrox: I didn’t really get much of a look at her. She was tall, dark, obviously important and powerful.
Sue: Surely the first thing you say when you’re describing Servalan to somebody is that she’s got short black hair. Why would he leave that detail out? Unless he’s Cancer, of course. It’s pretty obvious, really.
According to Nebrox, Servalan purchased a male slave that very morning.
Sue: Avon is seething with jealousy.
He needn’t worry, because as soon as Servalan claps eyes on him, she can’t wait to splash her cash.
Servalan: I want him.
Sue: This should be fun.
Benos highlights Avon’s extra features:
Benos: Now I know he looks soft, and he talks soft, too, but you can tell the ladies he’s strong enough to work all day and still have plenty of energy left over for any little chores you might have for him in the evenings.
Sue: Oh dear. I think I’m having a hot flush.
Avon becomes the subject of a bidding war.
Bidder #1: Valeria bids two hundred.
Bidder #2: Natratof bids two hundred and fifty.
Servalan: I bid seven hundred vems.
Sue: I bid a million vems! How much is a vem worth, Neil?
Me: More than you can afford, Sue.
With Nebrox’s help, Avon gets his teleport bracelet back. However, just when it looks like Avon will do a runner, he changes his mind and rescues Nebrox instead.
Sue: Aww, bless. The Doctor is going to join the team. That’s brilliant.
There then follows a really strange shot where Avon is captured in the middle distance. Blink and you’ll miss it – mainly because the director has decided to pack the foreground with panicked extras.
Sue: Who directed this? That was terrible. Inept, even. One minute you think Avon is free, and in the next shot he’s captured again. That was terrible!
Me: The director’s name is David Sullivan Proudfoot.
Sue: Are you taking the piss?
Sue: Is he a hobbit?
Me: Not to my knowledge.
Sue: Well, he’s got nothing to feel proud about. That was a shambles.
With Dayna’s help, Avon and Nebrox manage to escape in the nick of time, and it isn’t long before the Scorpio intercepts Cancer’s spaceship.
Sue: They should leave it alone. Everybody knows that Scorpio and Cancer are incompatible.
Tarrant and Avon teleport to the ship and walk straight into a trap.
Sue: Either the money has run out and that’s Blake’s 7‘s worst ever monster, or this is a trap.
She breathes a huge sigh of relief when we see Cancer hiding on the ship’s flight deck.
Sue: He looks like Noel Edmonds crossed with Michael Ball, with a young Colin Baker thrown in for good measure.
Tarrant and Cancer engage in some fisticuffs.
Sue: This is a very realistic fight, but there’s no atmosphere. I’ve lost all faith in the director.
Cancer is accompanied by exotic dancer named Piri.
Sue: She isn’t what she seems. She must be Cancer. It’s a bit obvious, this.
Me: I thought you said William Hartnell was the assassin?
Sue: We were supposed to think that – to put us off. No, she’s definitely Cancer.
Piri: He said that he wanted me to help him to celebrate after he’d finished a job that he had to do.
Sue: It really is Game of Thrones in space, what with all the space prostitutes and everything. Although you don’t get to see any tits in Blake’s 7. Well, not unless you count Vila.
Soolin, Vila and Nebrox teleport to Cancer’s ship.
Soolin: You have been busy.
Sue: Soolin’s very cocky all of a sudden. We didn’t hear a peep out of her for ages and now she’s strutting around like she owns the place.
Cancer promises to get his own back on Avon.
Cancer: I’ve never killed for personal pleasure before, but in your case I shall make an exception!
Sue: Oh dear. It’s all gone a bit panto, now.
Piri has a nervous breakdown.
Sue: Either they’ve hired a terrible actress or she’s Cancer. And if she is Cancer, Cancer is a terrible actress. Does that make sense?
Avon is rapidly running out of patience.
Avon: I’m setting a trap, not holding a convention for liberated slaves.
Sue: Brilliant. He’s stressed to hell, but he’s secretly enjoying himself.
Piri and Tarrant get to know each other.
Sue: (singing) I’m a private dancer, a dancer for a money, I’ll do what you want me to do…
Tarrant lets Piri know that Avon isn’t his boss.
Tarrant: If we think he’s right, we go along with it, if we don’t, we don’t. We’re all free agents.
Sue: (as Tarrant) It’s a shambles; we hardly get anything done.
Tarrant is completely smitten by Piri.
Sue: I don’t mean to be funny, but Tarrant is easily pleased.
Me: At least it means you might stand a chance with him.
Sue: Hark at Robert Redford over there.
Nebrox and Piri reminisce about the time they spent in slavery on Domo. However, Piri doesn’t seem to know what mangon is.
Sue: That confirms it. She’s definitely Cancer. And Noel Edmonds is her private dancer. But what is she waiting for? Shouldn’t she be killing everyone by now?
Right on cue, Cancer escapes and Nebrox is killed.
Sue: Is he dead or just out of focus? I can’t tell when it comes to this director.
Me: He’s dead.
Sue: Oh no. That’s rubbish. I wanted him to join the team full-time. He was wonderful.
Piri falls to pieces and Soolin slaps her to shut her up.
Tarrant: You enjoyed that, didn’t you?
Sue: I did. She’s really beginning to get on my tits.
Tarrant thinks Soolin is jealous of Piri.
Sue: Is he having a laugh? Soolin’s got absolutely nothing to be jealous of, whether she can pole dance or not.
As he bickers with Tarrant, it appears that Avon isn’t immune to Piri’s charms.
Tarrant: It certainly doesn’t speak highly of your much vaunted brains.
Avon: Your little friend seems to prefer them to your equally vaunted brawn.
Tarrant: What was that supposed to mean?
Sue: It means she fancies Avon and she doesn’t fancy you. Although why she can’t fancy both of them is beyond me…
All this testosterone makes Avon very agitated.
Sue: Here we go. Time for a violent snog.
Piri: Don’t fight over me, please!
Sue: Has she got an alien power that makes men fall in love with her, because if she hasn’t THIS MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL!
They decide to lock Piri on the flight deck, because if somebody stayed with her it would reduce their chances of finding Cancer by a third.
Soolin: Well, do we stick together, or what?
Sue: Weren’t you listening to anything Avon said two minutes ago, pet? If you stay together, all that chat about cutting down your chances by a third wouldn’t make any ****ing sense. ARGH!
The crew split up and search for Cancer.
Sue: It’s trying to be like Alien, but instead of a man-eating, acid-spewing monster, we’ve got Noel Edmonds skulking around in a bad mood. It’s not really working for me.
A mechanical spider is let loose on the ship.
Sue: A spider? What the ****? Shouldn’t it be a crab? Don’t tell me it didn’t say crab in the script. It should be scurrying sideways, too. What a farce!
Soolin takes a break, just long enough for the spider to creep up on her.
Sue: What the hell is she doing? She may as well wear a sigh that says “Kill Me”.
You’ll never guess what happens next…
Piri: I am Cancer.
Sue: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Whatever.
It looks like Piri has dedicated several hours to styling her hair for a torture session with Avon.
Sue: Wow. If Tarrant fancied her when she looked ordinary, he’s going to crazy when he finds out she’s an S&M dominatrix.
Noel Edmonds is actually a professional entertainer who was hired by Servalan to act as a decoy.
Sue: She could have auditioned a little bit harder. He was crap. Or maybe he was supposed to be crap, in which case he deserves a BAFTA.
Piri planned to kill the crew when they returned to Xenon Base.
Sue: Or she could pull her finger out and do it on the ship. You know, to save time.
Servalan is over the moon.
Servalan: Congratulations, Cancer, you are a credit to our sex.
Sue: Really? I’m ashamed.
Piri believes that her
crab spider has already nobbled Soolin.
Piri: I should imagine that blonde bitch is probably dead already.
Sue: Yeah, she’s a wonderful ambassador for feminism.
Piri places her magic spider on Avon’s trussed up body.
Sue: Right on his cock. Ouch! Actually, a crab would have been funnier. What a wasted opportunity.
Soolin and Tarrant come to the rescue and the spider ends up on Cancer’s arm.
Sue: At least she’s squishing it to death as it kills her. That’s nice.
Cancer screams the place down.
Sue: OH, SHUT THE **** UP!
There then follows a nail-baiting race to see who will reach the crew first. Will it be the Scorpio or Servalan?
Sue: What do you fancy for tea tomorrow night, Neil?
Cancer’s spaceship is blasted into a million tiny pieces.
Sue: They’re not really dead. Don’t ask me why – it’s just a hunch. Oh, look, they’re not really dead.
Not only are the crew not really dead, they’re sipping cocktails and kicking back on the Scorpio‘s sun loungers, although Vila does threaten to spoil the party mood.
Dayna: Vila’s worried. He wants to know what became of that sweet little girl.
Soolin: Vila, all sweet things have one thing in common: a tendency to make you sick.
Sue: Do you know what else has a tendency to make you feel sick? Forced comedy endings. Now pass me a bucket.
Sue: The direction, the acting and the script let it down. Apart from that, it was great.