Monday, 9 September 2013

C1 Aftermath

EPISODE: C1 Aftermath
BROADCAST: 07/01/1980
WRITTEN BY: Terry Nation
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorrimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

"So Blake's rabble finally get freedom of choice: he won after all"

The Liberator flees from the alien counterattack in the aftermath of the battle at Star One which destroyed the Federation base there. The Liberator has been severely damaged forcing the crew to flee the ships in life capsule. The battle is witnessed by primitives on the planet Saren who see it as fulfilment of prophecy. Jenna leaves with an injured Blake while an unconscious Avon is placed in a capsule with Orac. Two Federation troops crash on Saren noting losses of 80% of their fleet. They are found and killed by the warlike natives. Avon crashes on Saren too and is also attacked by it saved by a girl named Dayna who was brought to the planet by her Father as a child. She takes him to safety but he insists on returning to the life capsule for Orac. retrieving it from some natives that were trying to steal it. Servalan has also crashed on Saran and is alone. She finds Avon and holds him at gunpoint, but he's saved by the return of Dayna and the approach of natives causes all three to retreat to the undersea base where Dayna lives with her Father, the former Federation weapons designer Hal Mellanby. Avon tells Hal he was with Blake and Hal admits he has a Federation bounty of 3 million credits on his head. Hal's adopted daughter Lauren is frightened when the Saren locals attack the main hatch. Dayna, Lauren and Hal go to the surface and drive off the attackers. Avon uses Orac to contact Zen on the Liberator. Zen has received instructions from Blake and Jenna is on a hospital ship. No communication has been received from Villa & Cally. Avon orders Zen to move to his location and collect him. Zen also confirms a vehicle approaching the Liberator and Avon orders Zen to let it dock before Zen is cut off in a burst of static. Servalan proposes an alliance with Avon, telling him Star One has been destroyed, but Avon rejects both her offer and romantic advances. Dayna and Hal return to the base but Lauren remains outside to check the entry lock. Avon tells Hal of the Federation's fall and tells him he could leave. Lauren is captured by the Sarens. Servalan attempts to abscond from the base but is caught by Hal while she is trying to steal Orac. She kills Hal and leaves with Orac. Avon gives Dayna a teleport bracelet and they pursue Servalan to rescue Orac and avenge her Father's death. They discover Lauren's body strung up on the beach. Servalan is captured by the Sarens but rescued by Avon who needs Orac's location. Servalan demands to be taken with them. They return to the entry lock and dig up the hidden Orac who reports that the Liberator is nearing them. Servalan attacks Dayna but the Sarens attack in the struggle. Orac teleports Avon and Dayna to the Liberator while Servalan shelters from the Sarens in the base. Avon & Dayna are held at gunpoint in the teleport bay by a Federation officer who claims the Liberator is his ship.

This episode feels like Terry Nation's got a checklist of things to do: write out Jenna & Blake without them appearing, introduce one of their replacements, give the new lead character an episode to himself..... oh and resolve the cliffhanger from the end of the last episode/season. In many ways the resolution is a bit of a cop out: the battle is over before the episode starts thus avoiding a big (expensive) effects laden spaceships fighting sequence. A lot of what we do see at the start is actually reused footage: I can spot the Nova Queen from the crash at the start of Star One. In fact this sequence at the start of the episode is probably the first bit of Blake's 7 I ever saw, shown as a clip on a children's program. Launching all the crew off in lifepods ticks the boxes for points 1 & 3 on the list above - it also gives Vila & Cally most of the episode off too and sets up retrieving them as a plot for next week - and puts Avon into a position where he can encounter the new character Dayna as well. Having Servalan crash land on the same planet as Avon is stretching credibility a bit: Star One was meant to be in the middle of nowhere last episode yet this episode 3 sets of combatants (the aforementioned Avon & Servalan plus a pair of quickly dispatched Federation officers) end up on the same beach! Avon's right, staying at home at Space Command would have been a safer move for Servalan but you can see her point about putting in an appearance after the battle was all but over. (remind you of any of today's politicians) They've encountered each other a few times before (Project Avalon, Orac and Pressure Point) but only very briefly. Here they get extended screen time together and they're fabulous together. The scene where Servalan tries to seduce (literally) Avon with an offer of power is great as is his response that he'd be dead in a week! Servalan gets to wear lavender this week. OK it's borrowed clothes so it's not exactly her choice but it's only the second time (Red in Gambit) that she's worn anything other than white. Although the white dress she had on at the start of the episode was spotless for someone who'd been in a space battle and crashed into a sand dune!

Hal's adopted daughter Lauren: what purpose does she serve to the plot? She hardly says or does anything before meeting her fate and that in itself is hardly necessary as we've seen a strung up Saren at the start of the episodes. Dayna meanwhile is given a motive to go with Avon to get revenge on Servalan for the killing of her Father: she gets a decent introductory episode but keep in mind she's spent most of her life on Saren because this minor point will become significant later.

Yes the Sarens are another more primitive humanoid civilisation: see Deliverance and The Keeper. And several later episodes. Yes we have a disabled scientist living in an Underground base: see Dalek Invasion of Earth and Genesis of the Daleks.

So... we've got finding Blake, Jenna, Vila and Cally left to do. Yes we know Blake and Jenna are gone but .... If you wanted any more proof that Blake's gone look at the opening titles: they're different now removing the sequence of Blake's torture and his face that's been there since episode 1. Putting a Federation officer onto the ship at the end automatically provides a decent cliffhanger to get people back next week.

Newcomer Dayna is played by Josette Simon. Blake's 7 was her first TV job. Her father Hal is played by Cy Grant. An actor, writer, musician and poet the Guyanese born Grant was one of the first Afro Caribbeans to be regularly seen on UK television when he performed during the 50s. I've just read his wikipedia entry and that's some life he led! Almost makes me ashamed that the only thing I knew him for was voicing Lieutenant Green in Captain Scarlet! Three of the cast have Doctor Who form: Alan Lake, Saren leader Chel, was in Underworld as Herrick (though he's probably best known for being Diana Dors 3rd Husband). One of the crashed and ill fated Federation Troopers is Richard Franklin who was UNIT Captain Mike Yates (Dirty stinking Traitor) from 1971 to 1974 while the other Michael Melia is the future The Visitation Terileptil leader and Eastenders Queen Vic Landlord Eddy Royle

The Saren beach location is found near Bamburgh Castle, in Northumberland.

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast 2 days after Doctor Who episode 524 The Horns of Nimon Part Three, which was broadcast on 05/01/1980, and 5 days before episode 525 The Horns of Nimon Part Four, which was broadcast on 12/01/1980.

Aftermath was repeated on 01/06/81. It was released on video in the mid eighties as part of The Aftermath along with the following episode Powerplay and future episode Sarcophagus. The choice of episodes is a little perplexing since none of the episodes in Season 2 leading up to and including Star One were ever released on Video. Sarcophagus' inclusion is an entire different level of perplexing as we'll cover when we get there but for my money a better third episode would have been Rumours of Death or Terminal. The Aftermath was not released in the UK - I can remember seeing it listed as an import from Australia in an advert in Celestial Toyroom the Doctor Who fanzine. However when the three previous UK Blake's 7 compilation were budget re-released on video for £10 on the 5th March 1990 they were joined by the slightly retitled Aftermath. I bought The Beginning and Orac on the day of release and returned the very next day for Aftermath. An episodic release followed on 5th November 1991 on Blake's 7 tape 14 along with the following episode Powerplay and alongside Tape 13: The Keeper and Star One. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20th June 2005..... Putting the DVD on now has annoyed me as there's footage from the last episode of the season running behind the menu screen of disc 1! A Blake 7 Series 3 - Limited Collector's Edition DVD also exists containing a replica of the Corgi Liberator mounted in a plastic dome on the cover.

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