Blake's 7 #21: Hostage

"There's no one as free as a dead man."

IN THIS ONE... Travis lures Blake to a planet by holding is cousin hostage.

REVIEW: A lot of time (and Federation resources) is spent on an opening ship battle, where as many as 20 pursuit ships close in on the Liberator and even score a few hits. Models, effects, explosions... Mutoids with hair! And a new space commander who might have made a fine new villainous lackey for Servalan if she weren't so quick to arrest her own men when the fail. Maybe she's vowed "No more Travises!". Speaking of which, fresh of Trial, Travis IS the actual villain of the piece, running wild with a group of criminals, which he calls his Crimos instead of his men, and shouts at them with "Crimos!", which might as well be "Criminals!", and it's all very awkward. (But perhaps not as awkward as Blake kissing his cousin and Jenna acting jealous even though this is most sexual appetite Blake has every shown for ANYone.)

That said, I rather like this one. Travis has sent a message to Blake, saying they should team up now that he's also on the run from the Feds. But in Travis fashion, he's taken a girl who means a lot to Blake (the aforementioned kissing cousin) hostage. Way to extend a hand in friendship. So it's an obvious trap, but Blake has to rescue the girl, and he doesn't ask anyone to follow him down. As it turns out, his own uncle will betray him (but only to keep his daughter safe - he turns on Travis as soon as he can), and Travis had no intention of teaming up. He just wants the Liberator for himself. Of course, Avon and Vila will go down to the planet when they lose contact with Blake, and Avon in particular seems quite depressed at the idea of losing his rival for leadership. I don't know how often they can play this card with Avon, but it's still entertaining here. They'll be captured too (I love how Avon gets caught mid-sentence!), and there's a pretty cool browbeating scene (I don't know if I can call it torture exactly) between Travis and Vila where the former just shouts out "The word! The word! The word!" until Vila breaks down. It's loopy script writing, but I somehow have affection for it.

But if I give Hostage a good score, it's really because of the women in the cast. Servalan's in it, for one thing. That's always a bump. The reveal that Avon is the one who called her so that she might catch Travis before he became a problem is a great one. We also see her playing the politics of the situation when a Councillor shows up at her door to tell her the Federation Council is getting impatient with this whole situation. She goes on to work against him, doesn't take his calls, makes a deal with Travis to let her know if and when he gets close to Blake again, etc. As he's played by Kevin Stoney, I would have hoped to see him again in this role. Alas. I think we need someone breathing down her neck, forcing her to make big moves. Oh well.

Meanwhile, Jenna and Cally are left aboard ship to sit on their hands. I was all set to talk about my disappointment when one of the criminals boards the Liberator and they get into a bit of action. Cally shows some hand-to-hand prowess, and Jenna teleports him into the vacuum of space where he explodes! Ya! Let's go! Of course, the boys also get some action as they escape Travis' goons, but it's mostly Blake's uncle acting as some kind of one-man army.

NOT MY FEDERATION: Hiding in an ion cloud or nebula is a classic Starfleet strategy used here by the Liberator. Federation ships clock their speeds as "time distort" factors, which seems like going out of one's way not to say "warp". A reminder that in TOS, the term "time warp" was often used.

WHO?: Inga really looks like she's wearing Leela's hand-me-downs. Kevin Stoney is Doctor Who royalty, having played Mavic Chen in The Daleks' Master Plan, Tobias Vaughn in The Invasion, and Tyrum in Revenge of the Cybermen. Andrew Robertson (the Space Commander) appeared in "The Pirate Planet" as Mr. Fibuli. John Abineri (Uncle Ushton) appeared on Who four times in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Doctor eras, perhaps most notably as General Carrington in The Ambassadors of Death.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium - The violence, backstabbing, and what they've given the ladies to do keeps this one from a lower score. I almost gave it more, but have to accept that the dialog is weird, the love interest wrong-headed, and one of the guest-stars is wasted.


Maybe I need to rewatch this one. My only real memory is rolling my eyes at Blakes obsession with in-breeding, and Jenna’s jealousy. Get the hint girl, Blake is a mess and you can do so much better!

With that said, I do like this period of Travis as a rogue element.

Whatever I think of the episode, you crafted an engaging write up!! Loving your reviews.
John said…
Rewatching now, I can see that as a young man, I completely overlooked how aggressively the producers were catering to the dads in their casting. I found some old publicity photos of Judy Buxton on Shutterstock, and hubba hubba.