Saturday, 17 May 2014
Blake's 7 Review: Series A Episode 6 - Seek-Locate-Destroy
TRAVIS: “These are your orders?”
SERVALAN: “Destroy Blake.”
TRAVIS: “Depend on it.”
The Liberator crew stage a raid on a Federation communications centre on the planet Centero in order to steal a cypher machine that will allow them to listen in on Federation communications. They succeed but, during the final stages of the raid, Cally is left behind and presumed killed.
However Cally is not dead: she has instead fallen into the hands of Space Commander Travis. Travis is an old enemy of Blake who has been ordered by Federation Supreme Commander Servalan to find and kill Blake. Travis plans to use Cally as bait to bring Blake to him.
Via the cypher machine, the Liberator crew discovers that Cally is being held by Travis on Centero. Blake devises a plan to take Travis by surprise and rescue Cally.
All of this explains why Blake is reluctant to abandon Cally once he discovers that Travis has captured her. Not only does he know what Travis will do her but too many of his friends have already died and he doesn't want to lose another.
Avon: Seems surprisingly happy to take part in the raid on the communications centre and uses his technical knowledge to identify the cypher machine that the group want to steal. That said, he seems to feel a bit awkward about taking praise for his work. When thanked by Blake for getting the machine to work, he rather stiffly responds: "At least I'll know what the Federation is planning.
Jenna: Operates the teleport during the raid. When the crew believe Cally to be dead, Jenna tries to get to stop feeling guilty about it and make peace with himself.
Cally: During the raid she is left guarding some prisoners. Getting into a scuffle with one of them she loses her teleport bracelet and doesn't make it back up to the ship before the communications centre is destroyed. The others initially don't realise that she's not back on board and then assume that she's dead.
Cally, however, has survived and is handed over to Travis. Travis tortures Cally for information on Blake. She refuses to give any information but is then put into a torture machine similar to the one we see being used on Blake in the first episode. It's not actually revealed what if anything she tells Travis.
Cally is then used by Travis as bait to try and trap Blake but Blake turns the tables and rescues her.
Zen: Doesn't really do anything of note in this episode.
Servalan's decision to appoint someone as morally dubious and mentally unstable as Travis shows both how ruthless and determined she is to achieve her ends and how little she cares for popular opinion. There are, apparently, a number of Federation officers who disapprove of Servelan's actions and refuse to work alongside Travis.
As has already been mentioned, Travis was responsible for Blake's earlier capture. Although Travis was shot by Blake in that encounter, he was not killed. According to Travis a field medic saved his life but it did result in Travis's face being disfigured on one side and in losing his left hand. Travis's disfigurement is covered by a half-mask while his has hand has been replaced with artificial one. A powerful weapon has been built into the hand. Travis states that he could have his face repaired but chooses not to as it's a reminder that the man who caused it (Blake) is still alive.
When Blake rescues Cally, Travis tells Blake to kill him because, as long as he lives, Travis will be after him. Blake chooses not to although he does damage Travis's robotic hand.
This was the first episode of Blake's 7 that I saw (well, other than some hazy memories of the final series when I was 2) and it works as a perfect introduction to the series. The opening raid on Centero sees every member of the team playing a role and highlights a number of their key character traits and skills. Blake's the leader, Vila's the cowardly lock pick, Avon has the technical knowledge and Gan's the muscle. The ladies don't come off quite as well: Cally is left on guard duty and then gets captured while Jenna is on teleport duty once again.
This episode also introduces the two main antagonists of the series - Servalan and Travis. For much of the rest of this season these two will hot on Blake's heels. Both are excellent characters and it's immediately obvious that they will be worthy foes for the Seven - although Travis couldn't look more evil if he tried. Dressed all in black, with an eye patch - subtle it is not.
If you were looking for an episode to show to someone who had never seen the series before then this is it. Packed with incident and some great dialogue there's little dislike here. Except the robot that appears briefly at the beginning. It looks rubbish which is unfortunate as it will appear again in a few weeks...