"None of us showed conspicuous intelligence on this occasion."
Blake and Cally are on a mission to free the imprisoned former President Sarkoff of the planet Lindor when the Liberator intercepts a distress call from cruiser Star Queen. Gan teleports over but when he communicates with the ship Zen tells Vila that the voice is not Gan but not in time to prevent Avon & Jenna teleporting something back to the Liberator. Blake infiltrates Sarkoff's prison castle and tries to persuade the ex president to come with him and return to his planet Lindor to unite his people. Blake claims that the elections that deposed him were rigged. Blake tries to contact the liberator to have them teleported but there is no response. Blake forces Sarkoff to accompany them by threatening his collection of 20th century memorabilia and he leaves along with his bodyguard Tyce. Blake still can't raise the liberator but they are teleported back to a seemingly empty ship. Zen cannot locate the crew for Blake he finds Jenna claiming the others are dead before someone attacks him with a gas gun. He is locked up with Avon, Villa, Cally and Gan. Avon tells Blake Jenna has changed sides to work with her old friend Tarvin and his people the Amagon who is holding Tyce and Sarkoff prisoner. He has set course to rendezvous with Federation ships. To give them the crew and ship for a 13 million credits Jenna attempts to bribe Tarvin with liberators wealth. She evades er guards. Villa frees Blake from his restraint and he finds Jenna. Tyce holds Tarvin at gunpoint but is overcome, but Sarkoff grabs her gun and shoots him while he is distracted by Blake. Blake returns Sarkoff and his daughter Tyce to Lindor.
Sometimes you wonder where to start.... Terry Nation's obviously got another pair of plots that won't quite stretch to a full episode so once again he merges them. They roughly split the episode in two down the middle with little overlap between them. The problems start with the detail behind the first one being barking mad. Imprisoned in a castle? With his collection of Earth memorabilia and a vintage car????? nuts. The only function Sarkoff's odd habits serve is to give Blake a lever to force him to co-operate. The sequences set on the planet aren't helped by Cally suddenly deciding to go all individualistic and don a leopard fur jacket instead of the normal hooded top! * About the only thing I really like about this element of the plot is Blake's revelation that they're acting on information gained from federation computers using a stolen cypher machine, which we saw them steal in Seek Locate Destroy.
* an explanation for this can be found if you look behind the scenes: this is the first episode of Blake's 7 featuring a trip planetside since Barbara Lane finished her stint as Blake's 7's original costume designer and was replaced by Rupert Jarvis. He'll change Avon's jacket as well next episode but will return to Cally's original one for the final episode of the season!
Then we have Tarvin and the Amagons.... One of Jenna's old friends and a bunch of his mates taking over the ship would be an OK plot thread. But when the invaders are Indian actors dressed up to look like and acting like racially stereotypical Arabs it doesn't feel quite right. I'd like to be charitable and think this is an attempt to show how different cultures become mixed together overtime but I've watched other 70s TV series and seen how interchangeably non white actors are used without any respect to their actual origins. This half of the episode troubles me greatly.
And then, right at the end of the episode, from nowhere Tyce is suddenly Sarkoff's daughter! What? That just comes from left field and needs a lot more hinting at earlier in the episode.
T. P. McKenna plays Sarkoff. He's familiar to Doctor Who fans as Captain Cook in The Greatest Show in the Galaxy but has a lengthy stage and screen career. His daughter Tyce is played by Carinthia West. No wikipedia page, and only a short IMDB entry but a quick google search reveals she's has an interesting life associating with the Rolling Stones, as a photographer and an occasional actress. Marc Zuber, Tarvin has got two Space 1999 credits to his name a Main Mission Operative in Black Sun and a Security Lieutenant in Brian the Brain while Mark York, Federation trooper Cheney , was in an earlier Anderson series UFO as the Skydiver 3 Engineer in The Psychobombs. Derrick Branche the Amagon guard, had a recurring role as the nurse Gupte in Only When I Laugh and appeared in Father Ted as Father Jose Fernandez in The Passion of Saint Tibulus.
Waterloo Tower, Quex Park, Birchington, Kent is the location for the prison holding Sarkoff.
This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 2 days after Doctor Who episode 479 The Invasion of Time Part Six, which was broadcast on 11/03/1978, and was the last episode in Doctor Who's 15th season.
Missing from the compilation videos this episode was first released on Tape 6 paired with Deliverance and alongside Tape 5 Project Avalon/Breakdown on 5th March 1991. Bounty was repeated on 29/04/2000. A DVD release of the whole of Blake's 7 season one followed on 1st March 2004.