Blessed be thy name…
Sue: Terry Nation again? OK, now I’m worried. I bet he can’t keep it up.
On the penal planet Cygnus Alpha, a woman stares longingly at the night sky.
Sue: Is it Servalan?
Me: No, it isn’t Servalan. Stop jumping the gun.
Meanwhile, the prison ship London is limping bravely on.
Sue: Has Blake really been following this ship for four months? He must really love Vila. And Vila is a dick!
Artix tells Leylan that their remaining prisoners have been drugged up to the eyeballs to keep them docile.
Leylan: All a bit late in the day.
Sue: Understatement of the ****ing century! His annual appraisal is going to be hilarious.
When Leylan files his report, we are treated to a “previously on Blake’s 7″ recap.
Sue: Oh, this is nice of them. How thoughtful.
Leylan: Three prisoners escaped in a spacecraft of unknown origin. Prisoners Blake, Stannis, and Avon. The London is again under authorized control and proceeding to destination. Message ends.
Sue: What kind of report was that? He left out all the juicy bits. Like the bit where he was a terrible captain and it was his fault that he couldn’t control his crew. I’d look for another job if I were you, mate.
Meanwhile, on the spacecraft of unknown origin…
Sue: I like the comfy sofas at the front. This ship looks like it was built by DFS. Cream and brown – it doesn’t get more seventies than that.
Blake discovers the ship’s armoury. Or maybe it’s the ship’s hairdressing salon.
Sue: I’m sorry, love, I don’t care what you say, they are definitely curling tongs.
Blake: Ow. That one’s hot.
Sue: Told you.
The guns are hot because they operate with a single function isomorphic response, or as Blake puts it:
Blake: It’ll only let us have one gun each.
Sue: He says as he hands two guns to Jenna. Brilliant.
Avon: I must say, this technology has an organic feel about it.
Sue: Just like Babylon 5. Even the chairs look the same. They give great back support, but I bet they’re not very comfortable, though, especially on long-haul flights. Blake’s 7, Babylon 5. Even the titles are similar.
Me: And all the episodes were written by one person.
Sue looks crestfallen.
Me: I’m joking. Neil Gaiman wrote an episode of Babylon 5.
Jenna presses a button on the dashboard and the ship accelerates to a tremendous speed.
Sue: Are you quite sure this is a space ship and not a floating hairdressing salon? They appear to have engaged the blow dryers.
The ship cruises into orbit above Cygnus Alpha.
Sue: Well, it’s definitely got a bit of poke. What’s it like at parallel parking?
Suddenly, a booming voice welcomes the new crew. It’s the ship’s computer.
Zen: Zen. Welcome, Roj Blake.
Sue: It’s Roger. Only his friends call him Roj.
Zen: Please state speed and course.
Sue: A ship that can fly itself. That’s perfect. That’s the best sat-nav ever. This is what you want from a space ship. Who wants to spend four months reading the manual, even if you had four months to read the manual, which this lot had.
The ship is given a name.
Avon: The Liberator?
Jenna: It got that from me. It was something I was thinking.
Sue: It could have been a lot worse; it could have rhymed with liberator.
Zen isn’t the most forthcoming computer in the world, and when Blake and Avon enquire about the ship’s teleportation facilities, he’s less than helpful.
Zen: Wisdom must be gathered, it cannot be given.
Sue: It reminds me of that talking computer from that other science fiction thing.
Me: HAL from 2001?
Sue: No. The other one.
Me: TIM from The Tomorrow People?
She’s been watching the reboot; the one where TIM is an overhead projector.
Sue: No, the other one. Red Dwarf. It reminds me of Red Dwarf.
I give up.
The London deposits its prisoners on Cygnus Alpha.
Sue: I don’t get this at all. Why travel for eight months just to dump the prisoners here? Just dump them on the Moon! It must cost a fortune to go to all this trouble. There had better be a good reason for it.
Vila is threatened by a prisoner named Arco, but Gan intervenes with a threat of his own.
Sue: Gan enjoys violence. He smiles when he’s thinking about it. What is he in for, again? No, please don’t tell me. I don’t want to know. It’s probably something horrific involving a family pet.
Gan, Vila, Arco, and another prisoner named Selman, discuss their predicament.
Sue: Right. There’s four of them, and they all have lines, so they must be important. Add these four to the two he’s already got and you’ve got Blake’s 6. We’re almost there.
Yes, that’s right. Sue didn’t include Zen. Even though we named a hedgehog after him. And here’s another thing I wasn’t expecting: Sue really hates Vila.
Sue: He’s funny, I suppose. But is he always this much of a dick?
Blake decides to test the Liberator‘s teleport system.
Sue: It’s not as good as Star Trek. It’s more Ready Brek than Star Trek. But it will save them a lot of faffing about. I certainly wouldn’t want to land the Liberator. That would be a massive pain in the arse.
Blake is pursued by monks.
Sue: I think this would have scared me if I’d seen it when I was young. Did this bit scare you, Neil?
Me: I can’t remember this episode at all.
Sue: Well, after the last one, your mum probably put her foot down and you watched Coronation Street instead. Maybe you had one week on, one week off?
Avon tries to teleport Blake back to the ship but fails miserably. Jenna presses the correct button and Blake returns to the Liberator in the nick of time.
Sue: Does the teleport effect have its own theme tune? That’s nice.
Meanwhile, the prisoners on Cygnus are trudging towards a large foreboding structure in the distance.
Gan: What do you think it is?
Vila: The architectural style is early maniac.
Sue: Ha! That was a brilliant line.
Sue: Vila is still a dick, though.
A woman named Kara welcomes the prisoners to Cygnus Alpha. She does this by snogging Gan’s face off.
Sue: Do they all get a snog? That would be my first question.
Me: It’s the best warm-up to a full body cavity search I’ve ever seen.
Avon prepares to send Blake back to the planet’s surface.
Sue: Paul Darrow looks like he should be playing keyboards with Gary Numan’s Tubeway Army. Paul Darrow would have been a great in a New Wave band. He’s got that look.
Sue: Don’t laugh, but the best gig I’ve been to – and I’ve seen Queen, Led Zep and Genesis – was Gary Numan at Newcastle City Hall in 1979. I’m not joking.
Anyway, where were we? Oh yes, Blake teleports back to Cygnus Alpha with a big bag of bracelets.
Sue: He still hasn’t tested his so-called gun yet. He’s going to look very silly when he fires it and it barely heats up enough to curl his hair. At least Jenna will get some use out of it.
And then we meet Vargas.
Sue: He looks like Brian Blessed.
Vargas: His blessings are upon you. Speak and he will hear you.
Sue: Bloody hell. It is Brian Blessed. That’s mental. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Brian Blessed turns up.
Me: You like Brian Blessed, don’t you?
Sue: What kind of stupid question is that? Now shut up. I want to listen to Brian Blessed.
Vargas is the High Priest of Cygnus Alpha.
Sue: Their god has given them the gift of Trebor mints.
Meanwhile, Avon and Jenna are flirting on the Liberator.
Sue: Is this where the love triangle begins? The sexual tension on that ship must have been unbearable for the last four months.
Blake explores the church of Vargas.
Sue: Why is 1970s science fiction always medieval? I know it’s easier to light, but it’s really, really lazy. And boring.
The newly arrived prisoners have all succumbed to the Curse of Cygnus.
Gan: To survive we have to be treated with a drug every day for the rest of our lives. If we leave here, we die.
Sue: It’s a con! Any idiot can see that. Brian Blessed is HAVING A LAUGH!
Gan is in a great deal of pain.
Sue: Judging by his face, and the sound of people groaning behind him, the Curse of Cygnus definitely involves projectile diarrhoea.
Jenna changes into something more comfortable, and less smelly, probably.
Sue: Four months and that’s the best she could do? That doesn’t give me much hope for the rest of the wardrobe.
Avon decides to see if the ship has anything in his size.
Jenna: There’s another room you should see while you’re down there. At the far end. You might find it interesting.
Sue: It’s the ship’s sex dungeon.
Vargas captures Blake . He taunts him by breaking his precious teleport bracelets.
Sue: Is this why it’s called Blake’s 7? Because he only has 8 bracelets left?
Vargas is descended from the convicts who were originally sent to the penal colony.
Sue: Cygnus Alpha is basically Australia, but less right-wing.
Vargas tells Blake his life story.
Sue: This is great. Decent actors going at each other in a BBC studio. You can’t take your eyes off them. I’m enjoying this, even if our speakers are buckling when Brian lets rip.
Vargas threatens Blake with torture.
Sue: Oh look, they’ve got a sex dungeon down here as well.
Meanwhile, Avon has hit the jackpot: the Liberator’s jewel cache.
Avon: You could buy anything with this. Anything at all.
Sue: You can’t buy justice, Avon.
And then Avon drops his bombshell. He suggests to Jenna that they take off in the ship and leave Blake to it. He’ll only spend all that money on being virtuous. But Sue expected that. What she didn’t expect was Jenna agreeing to Avon’s plan if Blake doesn’t get his skates on.
Sue: The dynamic between the crew is very interesting. You can’t trust any of them.
Blake is tossed into a cell with the rest of the prisoners. Arco attacks him for refusing to cooperate with Vargas.
Sue: Four ****ing months it’s taken him to come here and rescue you. And this is the thanks he gets? I wouldn’t let him into my gang now. He’s blown it.
Gan calms things down and Blake gives the prisoners an ultimatum:
Blake: The choice is very simple. You can either fight or you can die.
Sue: Vila won’t fight. He’s a dick.
Vargas accidentally fires Blake’s curling tongs. It almost brings a supporting wall down.
Sue: OK, fair enough. That was pretty good. I’ll give them that. Just don’t stick it in your hair by mistake.
Sue tuts when Blake decides to wait until the last possible moment to save Gan, who is pretending to be sacrificed by Vargas. There is no reason for this, other than it’s a bit more exciting. A huge fight in a medieval castle ensues.
Sue: (singing) Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding trough the glen…
It’s our second prison revolt in as many episodes, but Sue is too busy counting the participants to notice.
Sue: 4…5…6… has he got to 7 yet? I think he has, you know. It’s time to go!
And then something truly shocking happens.
Sue: Vila! Yes!
Vila Restal saved the day. Who’d have thunk it?
Sue: That was really well done. I didn’t expect that because Vila was such a –
Me: Yes, Sue. We know.
Blake escapes from Vargas and his monks. But then he decides to go back for his gun.
Sue: Just leave it! You’ve got a whole rack of them back on the ship! And you’ve only got eight bracelets, so you can only use eight guns, remember!
Vargas teleports to the Liberator, which he intends to steal so he can set up an intergalactic cult. Unfortunately for him, he steps back into the teleport area and Blake sends him to an explosive death in the cold vacuum of space.
Sue: Ha! That was brilliant. Very Monty Python. OK, it’s time for a quick head count… Right, I don’t know about you, but I make that Blake’s 4.
Me: What about Zen?
Sue: What about it?
Sue: That was all right. It wasn’t as good as the last two episodes, and in normal circumstances I would probably give it a 6. I’m sick of pretend-medieval-sci-fi. It’s so lazy. But Brian Blessed was in it, and if that isn’t worth an extra point, I don’t know what is.