Putting the Fun in Funeral…
Me: This episode was written by a woman.
Sue: Good. It’s a shame that they couldn’t be arsed to centre her credit, though. Look at the state of it.
Me: Tanith Lee was a prolific feminist science fiction author in the 1970s and 80s.
Sue: What are her books like?
Me: I don’t know. I’ve only ever pretended to be a feminist.
Sue: You twat, Neil.
We’re less than a minute into the episode when Nicol decides to join us.
Nicol: What the hell are you watching?
The opening is quite hard to explain, but Sue has a go anyway:
Sue: It’s basically Eyes Wide Shut meets The Wicker Man, Nicol. Oh, and this woman can extinguish burning torches with her hand. Apart from that, I haven’t a bloody clue.
We witness a strange ceremony that features a magic act, a musician and a martial arts expert.
Sue: It’s Britain’s Got Talent… It’s Britain’s Got Talent on a space ship.
Nicol: I’m pressing my buzzer. This is ridiculous.
Me: Prime-time BBC1, Nicol. Can you believe it? I can’t believe it and I was there.
Sue: It reminds me of The Prisoner. That was ****ing mental as well.
Me: Great Tangerine Dream soundtrack, though.
Nicol decides that she’s had enough and leaves.
Sue: Did BBC2’s viewing figures go through the roof when this went out?
When the ceremony is complete, and the participants are preparing to leave, a mysterious figure in black gatecrashes the party.
Sue: The auditions are over, mate. You’ll have to try out for The X Factor next door. Sorry.
This man is banished and then a vessel is launched into space.
Sue: Right, I’m guessing that was a wake and they’ve shot a dead body into space, but the only reason I know that is because of the episode’s title. Because if I’m honest, Neil, I didn’t really follow that. I’m sure it will make sense eventually, though.
Meanwhile, on the Liberator…
Sue: Cally’s bedroom looks like a prison cell. No wonder she’s so miserable. Just think, if she found a red bulb, she could have the full traffic light.
Avon pays Cally a visit.
Sue: Avon is looking very smart this week. It looks like he’s had a bath and ironed his clothes. Yes, he’s definitely making a special effort for Cally.
Avon comforts the telepath, who is still mourning for Auron. Cue the inevitable shipping.
Sue: This isn’t the first time that Avon’s been in Cally’s bedroom, if you know what I mean. I hope they end up together at the end. Now that Anna is out of the way, it should be plain sailing.
Meanwhile, on the Liberator‘s flight deck, Vila hopes to beat Avon in a quick game of Space Triangles.
Sue: I don’t like Vila’s tracksuit. He looks like a chav this week. It’s the sort of thing Jimmy Saville wore at the height of his crimes.
Thanks to an audacious move by Avon, Vila loses the game.
Vila: It was your fault. You put me off.
Dayna: With pleasure. On the first planet we come to.
Sue: I really like Dayna. Even when she’s nasty, she’s nice.
The crew detect a ship drifting aimlessly through space. A bit like them, then.
Zen: Primary analysis suggests the design is eccentric and may be decorative rather than functional.
Avon: What about manpower?
Sue: Manpower? I thought you said this was written by a feminist, Neil?
Tarrant can’t wait to explore the mysterious space craft.
Avon: In other words, you’re bored.
Sue: They literally have nothing to do. Why don’t they pretend to search for Blake or Jenna, or something like that. Why are they still together? What is the point of them any more? They need a mission. Isn’t there a Star Two they could look for?
Avon: Something else to chase?
Sue: It’s better than sitting around doing nothing, chick.
Avon, Vila and Cally teleport to the derelict ship, which is covered in dust, cobwebs and party streamers.
Cally: This isn’t a ship, it’s a tomb. They, whoever they are or were, sealed their dead up inside and set it adrift in space.
Sue: It must have cost them a fortune. The performers they hired for the funeral can’t have been cheap, either.
Me: You should see the invoice for James Doohan’s funeral.
The Liberator detects an energy build-up inside the tomb.
Avon: We may have tripped a few wires.
Sue: You’ve activated the security tinsel! Quick! Get out of there!
Cally teleports back to the Liberator, but Vila and Avon are mysteriously left behind. Zen estimates that the alien ship will explode in 30 seconds, so Cally volunteers to go back for them. Tarrant argues the toss with her for at least 20 seconds.
Sue: ARGH! Stop yakking and move! Anyone would think that Tarrant wanted Avon to die. Oh, he makes me so angry.
Cally rescues her friends in the nick of time. She also steals a ring from the desiccated corpse on the ship, which really surprised Sue, and then, when she falls asleep later, Cally has a vision.
Sue: Is it Cally’s twin sister again? No, wait, she can’t be Zelda because Zelda’s dead. Perhaps Cally was a triplet? Or maybe her sister is a ghost… I don’t know. It’s very confusing.
Avon and Tarrant lock horns on the flight deck.
Avon: Shut up, Tarrant.
Tarrant: Did you say something to me?
Avon: I said, shut up. I apologize for not realising you are deaf.
Sue: This is brilliant. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for absolutely ages. Take him down, Avon.
Tarrant stands his ground.
Tarrant: When you found me on the Liberator, it was quite a blow. And every time you look at me, it hits you harder, doesn’t it? I’m faster than you and I’m sharper. As far as it goes, I’ve made a success of my life.
Sue: Don’t make me laugh! Who the **** does he think he is?
Avon: You talk too much.
Sue: He talks, full stop.
Me: I think Avon’s patience has run out.
Sue: I don’t know why he had any patience with him in the first place. Just teleport Tarrant into space when he’s asleep. Who would miss him?
There now follows a short musical interlude…
Sue: Bloody hell. It really is The Wicker Man in space.
Me: It’s late-80s Tangerine Dream meets Joan Baez.
Sue: I’ve never seen or anything quite like it.
Me Prime-time BBC1, Sue. Prime-time BBC1.
Sue: Do you know what? I think I like it. It’s different.
The crew recovered a strange object from the tomb – Sue thinks it could be a speaker dock for an alien iPod – and Tarrant asks Orac to analyse it.
Orac: I have already informed you that this structure is of an unfamiliar type. My deductions are necessarily limited by the facts available and the rationality of possible theories.
Sue: I remember when Orac could predict the future.
Me: They should consult Avon’s rock.
A drinks tray starts flying around the room.
Sue: Either the gravity is failing or they need an exorcist.
Orac is damaged, the artefact crumbles to dust and Zen has a nervous breakdown. In short: it’s all go on the Liberator.
Zen: (pitch and tone varying wildly) Inboard … inboard sensors indicate there is an intruder aboard.
Sue: This is proper scary. I don’t like hearing Zen like this. It’s freaking me out. This definitely isn’t for kids.
It looks like Cally has been taken over by an alien. Same shit, different day.
Sue: I’d be suspicious if Cally wasn’t taken over by an alien, it happens that often.
A vision calls out to her.
Alien: Cally, you’ve been so long alone. Cut off from your people. You’ve been homesick for your own world, your own kind, haven’t you?
Sue: I detect a lesbian subtext.
Me: Yeah, but you detect a lesbian subtext in every story, Sue.
Vila performs a magic act for an invisible audience.
Me: I think I’ve got it now. The crew are possessed by the ghosts of the contestants on Britain’s Got Talent. Yes, that’s definitely it.
Dayna’s lyre starts playing itself.
Sue: That was a B-flat, actually.
Vila and Dayna are inexplicably dressed as a court jester and a… erm…
Sue: ****ing hell, Neil. I’m just going to go with this and hope for the best. Thank God Nicol isn’t here to see this.
A hand appears on Vila’s shoulder.
Sue: That better not be Servalan’s hand!
Luckily for Sue, it’s Cally in a ginger wig.
Sue: She suits it. It’s a big improvement on her curly perm. She’s gone a bit heavy on the fake tan, but you can’t have everything.
Tarrant tries to work out the plot.
Tarrant: It’s used her as a blueprint to make itself a brand new physical shape, only the whole thing sounds crazy!
Sue: You can’t really argue with that. This is the strangest episode of Blake’s 7 I’ve seen, which is saying something.
Tarrant races to the flight deck in a red onesie and matching cape.
Sue: Just when you thought Tarrant couldn’t be any more ridiculous. Oh my God.
When Tarrant confronts the alien on the flight deck, she shows him a life where he’ll have to dress as a pillock and look after her doves for the rest of his life.
Sue: Face it, Tarrant, you’re never going to get a better offer than that.
And then the alien raises her hand and Tarrant writhes in agony on the floor.
Sue: Nah, sorry. I don’t feel any sympathy for him. Hurt him some more, pet. Keep going until he’s dead.
Dayna comes to the rescue.
Sue: The direction is excellent this week. Just look at that silhouette of Dayna as she walks onto the flight deck. That’s wonderful.
Me: This episode was directed by a woman.
Sue: That explains that, then. You know, this almost makes up for that sexist crap I had to endure the other week. Well, almost.
The alien wants to know where Avon is hiding.
Alien: Remember my mental link with Cally. Naturally I know who is here and who isn’t, particularly if it’s Avon.
Sue: She said ‘particularly’. That settles it: Avon and Cally are lovers. Told you so.
Avon saunters onto the flight deck.
Sue: Avon will figure it out. He’s Avon.
The alien tempts Avon.
Alien: You know that I wouldn’t wish to make a slave of you, don’t you? Not you.
Sue: Well, not that kind of slave, anyway.
Avon cajoles the alien into killing him, and it’s at this point that Cally intervenes and breaks the alien’s mental link.
Sue: Cally’s love for Avon will save them both. Aww, this is so sweet.
The flight deck is rocked by explosions.
Sue: This looks fabulous but the ship is completely ****ed. That could be their next mission: repairing the ship.
Avon advances on the alien.
Avon: You look so beautiful when you’re angry.
They kiss. Sue gasps.
Avon pinches the alien’s ring. Sue gasps some more.
The alien is begging Avon for it.
Sue: My precious!
The alien wants to live.
Alien: Don’t send me back into the dark, Avon!
Sue: Oh just give it to her and teleport her somewhere nice. It’s sad, this. And Avon is so handsome in this scene, it’s ridiculous.
Just as she says this, we cut to Avon dressed as the man in black who was late for the Britain’s Got Talent auditions. It’s symbolic, innit?
Sue: Oh dear. I spoke too soon. The look on Paul Darrow’s face says it all.
Me: It’s a look that says, “Get my agent on the phone!”
Sue: Please don’t tell me that this convinces Paul Darrow to leave the series.
The alien slowly transforms into a corpse before fading away to nothing.
Sue: That was nicely done. And it was very, very sad. At least Cally and Avon can make their relationship public now. No more sneaking around. Go on, Avon, find Cally and give her a big cuddle. She could do with one right about now.
Zen: All systems have been restored to maximum capacity. The Liberator is now fully operational.
Sue: That’s a relief. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I was worried about Zen when he broke down earlier.
Me: What about Orac?
Sue: **** Orac.
Avon and Cally exchange a meaningful look.
Avon: Zen, let’s get out of here.
Sue: They don’t know where they’re going, but they’re gonna shag like rabbits all the way there.
Sue: I didn’t think I was going to like that one, but once it got going, it was really good. It was a bit too weird for me – I could have done without that silly dressing-up nonsense – but Paul Darrow was amazing, and it very atmospheric and different. Yeah, I enjoyed that one a lot. And I’ll tell you something else: the woman who plays Cally is a really good actress. Yeah, just let the women take over Blake’s 7 from now on. You can’t go wrong.