Burning down the house…
This episode begins with two of our heroes teleporting down to the surface of an alien planet.
Sue: Is that Blake?
Tarrant: Safely down.
Sue: Oh, it’s him. He doesn’t half look like Blake. And why is he dressed as a pirate?
Me: We should probably name one of our wild cats Tarrant.
We currently care for four feral cats that still remain nameless.
Sue: Absolutely not. People will think we named the poor thing after Chris Tarrant. We can call one of the girls Dayna. I can live with that.
The planet Obsidian is home to an extremely large volcano.
Sue: The stock footage and this location don’t really go together; they need more yellow smoke if they’re going to sell this to me.
Me: We’ve visited this location. About fifteen years ago, I think. It’s in Ripon.
Sue: Have we? I don’t remember you mentioning Blake’s 7 at the time. Although it does explain why you were dressed as a pirate.
Deep inside a secret base, two men are monitoring Tarrant and Dayna’s progress on the surface. The older man is named Hower.
Sue: Ooh, he’s really famous. Don’t tell me…. He’s been in loads of films. He plays gay men quite a lot.
Me: It isn’t Ian McKellen.
Me: It’s Michael Gough. He used to be Alfred the Butler in the Batman movies before Michael Caine took over. Remember?
Sue: Oh yes. I do remember. He’s very good.
Me: You may also remember him as The Celestial Toymaker.
Sue: Oh for ****’s sake. You’ve spoilt it now.
A robotic waiter serves Hower a refreshing beverage.
Sue: You can’t move for idiots like him in Piccadilly Circus.
Dayna and Tarrant continue to search for Dayna’s friends.
Sue: I thought they were supposed to be looking for Blake? Why are they looking for Dayna’s friends? Are they running a taxi service on the Liberator now?
Back on the ship, Vila doesn’t understand why Obsidian survived the recent war unscathed.
Vila: Nobody wanted it, that’s what I reckon. And very sensible, too.
Avon: Let us settle this neurotic little worry. Zen, do you have sufficient information to be able to tell us when the next major volcanic eruption on the planet Obsidian is to be expected?
Sue: He may as well have said, “Sit down, Vila, and let the grown-ups take over”.
While the crew debate the Federation’s motives, Sue issues me with a stark warning:
Sue: Just so you know, if Servalan turns up on that planet, the cushions are coming out.
The crew have another reason for coming here: Blake.
Avon: It’s getting to be a fairly common rumor. We could spend the rest of our lives chasing down the ones we’ve picked up so far.
Sue: What about Jenna? Why don’t you look for her? I thought she was in hospital. Oh no. You don’t think they stole her organs, do you?
Back on the Obsidian, Tarrant and Dayna are drenched in a strange liquid that’s been fired from a gun. The mist renders them both unconscious.
Sue: Hang on a minute. Rewind that. Yes, I thought so. How the **** did he fire the gun into the wind like that? His hair is flying backwards. Rewind it again. Yes, there. No, back a bit. There. Look! The steam went straight back into his face! Unbelievable!
I rewind it one more time.
Tarrant: Is it raining?
Sue: Bloody hell, they really are using water pistols this week.
Back on the Liberator, Avon is doing what he does best: putting Vila in his place.
Avon: I think you should get back to recalibrating the weaponry systems.
Sue: If you can tear yourself away from Judo practice. And if Vila is really a black belt, I’ll eat my hat.
Hower examines Tarrant and Dayna’s unconscious bodies.
Sue: The face-stroking is a bit creepy, mate. If Tarrant wakes up with his trousers on back to front, you’ll know who to blame.
Hower eventually introduces Tarrant and Dayna to his family.
Hower: This is my son, Bershar. He has special duties.
Sue: And the man in the silver suit is my other son, Robbie. He’s a huge disappointment to me.
Tarrant assures Hower and Bershar that he isn’t Federation.
Tarrant: We are survivors of a galactic war.
Sue: Survivors of a galactic panto, more like.
And then, just as Sue is settling into a stupor…
Sue: Oh, for God’s sake.
Me: Please don’t hit me! It’s not my fault they wanted Servalan to take a more active role in the series.
Sue: I preferred it when she was scheming in a ball gown somewhere safe. I can’t believe she’s flying around the galaxy like an evil Captain Kirk. It’s silly.
Me: It would be like Margaret Thatcher driving around in a tank. Actually, that’s a terrible example.
Back on the Liberator, Avon is teasing Vila for fancying Dayna.
Vila: Pretty? Yes, I suppose she is. I hadn’t really noticed.
Avon: We’ve seen you not really noticing, frequently.
Sue: Dayna is so out of Vila’s league, it’s not even funny. Avon won’t feel threatened by this at all. Dayna will probably be a bit creeped-out, though.
Tarrant wants to know if Blake has visited Obsidian.
Tarrant: Hasn’t he contacted you? We heard he’d been here.
Sue: I’ve got it! Blake is hiding in the robot costume.
Sue: I’m a little tea-pot, short and stout… I’m sorry but this is a bit dull. I don’t know what’s happening and I don’t really care.
Meanwhile, on Servalan’s ship…
Sue: At least she’s wearing something sensible this week. It isn’t very flattering but it is practical. I prefer it when she’s sipping cocktails in a dress, though.
Servalan has instructed a Federation officer named Mori to steal theLiberator. Mori wants to know why Obsidian wasn’t touched during the recent war.
Mori: They were right in the middle of the war zone where some of the greatest battles of the galactic war took place.
Sue: We’ve only got his word for that. It didn’t look that great from where I was sitting. And who is this guy, anyway? He’s very twitchy. And he isn’t even remotely threatening. He looks more like an accountant. Travis wouldn’t give him the time of day.
Servalan joins Mori’s troops on the surface of Obsidian.
Sue: She’d better be wearing white hiking boots. No. Of course she isn’t. She’s wearing heels. On a windswept moor. She makes me laugh.
Servalan is approached by two men who vanish in and out of thin air for no readily apparent reason.
Sue: What the ****?
The two men are brothers – Milus and Natin (which Sue mishears as ‘Nutty’) – give Servalan a small object. Servalan immediately orders their execution, but when Mori gives them a chance to run, they refuse.
Sue: Why don’t the pacifists run away? I thought they’d be really good at that.
Tarrant tries to do a deal with Bershar.
Sue: He isn’t getting any less posh, but I still like him. Yes, he looks like he’s walked off an amateur production of The Pirates of Penzance, but he at least he’s dishy. The only problem I have with Tarrant is that he looks too much like Blake.
Me: You’d think they would have taken that into consideration when they cast the part.
Sue: I know. It’s almost as if they were trying to replace Blake even though Blake is still in it.
I pause the DVD.
Me: Is he?
Sue: What do you mean?
Me: Haven’t you worked it out yet?
Sue: Yes, Blake is in the robot costume.
Me: No, he isn’t. Blake’s gone.
I suddenly feel as if I’m telling her that one of her kittens has died.
Sue: What do you mean, Blake’s gone? Gone where?
Me: I mean he isn’t coming back. The actor, Gareth Thomas, got fed up. He wanted to direct a couple of episodes but the BBC told him to sling his hook.
Sue: That’s a bit mean. He couldn’t have done any worse than some of the directors we’ve had to endure. Like this one, for example.
Me: Anyway, that’s it. He’s gone.
Sue: So we’ll never see Blake again?
Me: No. Never.
Sue: Even though his name is in the title of the programme?
Me: I know. It’s weird. Just ask Taggart.
Sue: Then again, what can you do? You can’t change the title of the programme in the middle of a series.
Me: Let’s just say that you can. What would you have called the programme? Avon’s 7?
Sue: Don’t be daft. I’d probably call it The Liberators. Or just Liberator. Something like that.
Me: While we’re on the subject, I’ve got something else to tell you.
Sue: Not Jenna as well?
I offer her a tissue, even though she doesn’t need one.
Sue: Did she want to direct an episode as well?
Me: No, she just wanted the writers to give her something to do.
Sue: You can’t really blame her. She was basically a clothes horse in space towards the end. Oh well. I don’t know what else to say. I didn’t see that coming, but I can’t say I’ll miss them very much.
I resume the episode. I know it’s a pain in the arse but what can you do?
Servalan returns to her ship (“I hope she brought a packed lunch”) so she can contact the Federation’s battle fleet commander.
Sue: It looks like they dragged a tramp off the street and then they made him sit in a cupboard and film this scene. Servalan’s henchman have really let themselves go.
Servalan’s ship has a very striking design.
Sue: It looks like a dead, upside down crocodile.
Me: That’s exactly what they were aiming for.
It’s all kicking off on Obsidian. Mori has captured Dayna and Tarrant, thanks to the treacherous Bershar, and then, because Vila is so highly strung, three Federation troopers are accidentally teleported to the Liberator.
Sue: Vila, you numpty! Quick, flick the switch the other way before they know what’s happening. Oh, too late.
The Liberator is under attack.
Avon: Battle and navigation computers online.
Avon: Compute an initial evasion course to take the flank ship in delta seven out of line and into strike range.
Zen: Grid one zero four, standard by six.
Avon: Execute. Stand by the force wall.
Sue: Avon doesn’t need a crew. He can manage quite well on his own. Look at him standing there in his black leather, as cool as you like. I’ve changed my mind: call the show Avon.
Cally tries to warn Avon that the ship has been invaded. Given Paul Darrow’s reaction it’s impossible to tell if she’s been successful or not.
Me: I’m a better telepath than Cally.
Sue: That’s news to me.
Me: I know what you are thinking right now: This is shit.
Sue: It’s… average.
With the Liberator damaged and Avon incapacitated, Mori helps himself to Orac.
Sue: Take him. He’s ****ing useless.
Incredibly, Vila is left in command.
Sue: God help them all.
A little later, Vila and Avon assess the damage over a glass of green.
Avon: A mess.
Sue: Blake’s had worse days than this. Nobody died this time.
Sue finally decides who Bershar reminds her of.
Sue: It’s Richard E. Grant. Not only does he look like him a bit, he sounds like him as well.
She’s right. And this means we can’t take him seriously from this point on.
Bershar: We must defend ourselves or we’ll die, all of us. I don’t want to die, not for a stupid ideal that can never work!
Sue: I demand the best wines in the land! How does it go again, Neil?
Me: I came on holiday by accident!
Sue: Richard E Grant and Tarrant are trying to out-posh each other. They’ll be challenging each other to a game of polo next.
Hower has heard enough and he sentences his son to death.
Sue: So they’re pacifists but they have the death penalty. How does that work?
Hower explains why everybody leaves them alone, besides the fact they are tedious beyond belief, of course.
Hower: There is a nuclear device buried deep in the heart of the planet. One touch of that button and it blows.
Sue: I bet this episode ends with Alfred blowing up the planet. It’s so obvious.
Me: Switzerland’s heading for Switzerland.
Sue: Where’s Cally at this point? I’ve completely forgotten.
Me: Ah, yes. Cally. I have something else to tell you, Sue. You see, the actress who played Cally always wanted to turn her hand to directing –
Sue: NO ****ING WAY! They got rid of Cally as well? Doesn’t anyone care enough to stick around long enough to film a goodbye scene? For ****’s sake.
When Cally turns up in Mori’s care a few minutes later, I conclude that the cushion was worth it.
Sue: I really hate you sometimes.
Me: Of course you do. We’re watching ‘Volcano’.
Cally uses her unique brand of shit telepathy to guide Tarrant and Dayna to the rim of the volcano.
Dayna: I can hear something. A voice. It… it says to go forward, there.
Tarrant: All right, that’s what we’ll do.
Sue: I can’t believe he didn’t check to see if she was drunk before he agreed to that.
Dayna throws a grenade, which sends a Federation trooper tumbling into the hot lava.
Sue: Nice try. Looked shit, though.
Meanwhile, the Liberator is completely stuck.
Zen: The energy banks still require two minutes before power will be available to make navigation speed.
Avon: We’ll be dead by then.
Zen: One minute fifty-nine seconds.
Sue: This is worse than waiting for your iPhone to charge.
Down on the planet, Hower presses the big red button and the nuke goes off.
Sue: That’s an impressive body count for a pacifist. I bet Servalan escaped, though. She’s bound to be on the next alien planet they just happen to turn up on.
The episode ends on a bit of a downer.
Cally: She lost, and we lost. Only the Pyroans won.
Vila: If that’s winning, I’ll take losing every time.
Sue: **** off, Vila.
Sue turned to me, shrugged her shoulders and made a funny noise:
Me: What’s that supposed to mean?
Sue: It means, I don’t know what else to say. It was just… ewurgh.
Me: Bloody hell, that’s generous.
Sue: Nobody cares what you think, Neil. And it wasn’t that bad. I’ve seen a lot worse. And look on the bright side: Blake’s gone.