Blake's 7 #27: Aftermath

"Without danger there's no pleasure."

IN THIS ONE... Big changes in the crew after the Adromendans and Federation mostly destroy each other.

So I was wrong. I was expecting the third season of Blake's 7 to make the heroes have to join forces with the Federation against the Andromedan fleet. Instead, the war is taken care of in a badly edited montage (bad editing and musicless dead air plague the episode), and we're told the Federation won but has lost its control center Star One and 80% of its fleet. It lies in ruins. Blake has effectively won... Not that he's in the episode (or indeed, the season). He and Jenna have left the show - hopped on an escape pod, as covered in dialogue - and we can't even be sure about Cally and Vila, since they sit Avon and Orac down in a different escape pod and aren't seen again. You spend most of the episode wondering if the Liberator is even in Series C, since it's so badly damaged (but of course, it has self-repairing circuits). This is a major repositioning of the show by Terry Nation who, you know it, tried to get Vila killed (AND Cally), but Chris Boucher just wouldn't let him. Have you learned your lesson yet, Terry?

In Aftermath, at least, this has become the Avon show. He's stranded on a beach planet (which has to be very near the edge of the galaxy since we were close to Star One) with primitive horsemen who are trying to kill him and other strangers who fall from the sky (including Richard Franklin as one of a Federation double act who seemed to be more important than that). Avon falls in with a veritable Amazon, Dayna, who I thought was very interesting even before it became clear she would be a new cast member. She's a weapons expert, but prefers ancient weapons like the bow and arrow. She's a fierce thrillseeker and doesn't mind killing, much to the distress of her blind scientist father who took her into exile from the Feds with him. When he and her adopted sister are killed, she becomes a sureshot to join the Liberator crew (and adds some diversity to it too). By the time they get back on board, it's been hijacked by a Federation officer. The credits tell me this is Tarrant, a name I recognize as associated with the show, but I don't know if he's the new Travis, or if he'll end up joining the Seven. Cliffhangers and all that.

The crazy thing here is that Servalan is ALSO stranded on this planet. I guess she's a front-line President. Even Avon remarks on how insanely unlikely this is, as if Boucher was taking a swipe at Nation right there in the script edit. She and Avon never spoke to each other before, but without Blake around, the two snakes are able to throw witty barbs at each other (certainly a better use for Servalan than the cattiness she shows to Dayna). Servalan even tries to seduce Avon into becoming Emperor next to her - which may be overestimating the Liberator, it's still just one ship - and he kisses her deeply before rejecting her violently. Who's playing who, exactly? Jacqueline Pearce is as great as ever - even doing a violent stunt herself at one point, when one of the natives throws her down by the throat - and there's a part of me that was hoping the Andromedans (or another faction) would become the new villains and she would join the crew (I think Avon kind of loses the title of untrustworthy crew member after a while, especially here where he gives Zen priority to Vila and Cally's rescue). Of course, after she shoots Dayna's dad in the electronic eye, it becomes impossible. The only thing that prevents Dayna from killing Servalan is a badly timed teleport (yes, I still refuse to write "teliport" even after two seasons). I'm sure Servalan will escape the planet to fight another day, as she must, and she's a better villain than the planet's brutal barbarians. Absolutely required, not just now, but in the future. Speaking of the future, I'll miss Gareth Thomas - I was a big fan of Blake - and to some extent Sally Knyvette, but Dayna neatly replaces Jenna, so that's probably a wash. Where we go from here - which is to say, what are Avon's plans for the Liberator - is something I'm keen to find out.

NOT MY FEDERATION: Blindness is also addressed mechanically in the other Federation, Miranda's web (Is There in Truth No Beauty) and Geordi's VISOR are two examples.

BUT MIGHT BE MY EMPIRE: Out of the ashes of the defeated Federation, Servalan hopes to build a new Empire. Out of the defeated Empire, the First Order, presumably.

WHO?: Most prominently, Franklin Richards - Mike Yates during the UNIT era - plays one of the troopers who muse about the end of the war. The other one, Michael Melia, less prominently played the Terileptil leader in The Visitation. Chel, the leader of the Sarrans, is played by Alan Lake, who was Herrick in Underworld.

- It's messy, but required viewing because of the season's repositioning.