Monday, 28 October 2013

C8 Rumours of Death

EPISODE: C8 Rumours of Death
BROADCAST: 25/02/1980
WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: Fiona Cumming
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

"What have I ever done to him?"
"You killed someone he loved."
"And there aren't many of them about. Avon's not a very lovable man, in case you hadn't noticed."

Avon has been captured and is languishing in a Federation cell. He is visited by the Federation's chief interrogator Shrinker who tells him his homing device implanted in his neck is still sending, has been for five days and his friends aren't coming. Avon replies that his friends were waiting for the beacon to stop transmitting as Dayna & Tarrant teleport into the cell to rescue Avon and take Shrinker prisoner. On Earth Servalan is hosting a conference at her presidential palace, a reconstructed country house. In attendance are Councillor Chesku, who is giving a speech, and his wife Sula. As they walk round the garden Chesku is held at gunpoint by troops loyal to his wife and she shoots him. Avon takes Shrinker to a sealed cave and questions him about what he knows of Avon's girlfriend Anna Grant, whom Shrinker is reputed to have tortured and killed. Shrinker admits he knows nothing about Anna and never met her. He remembers Avon from his banking fraud and recalls he was being run by an agent named Bartholomew working out of Central Control who were convinced he was political. When Avon was injured all of his contacts were pulled in: Shrinker didn't kill Anna, Bartholomew did. Sula's group attack a group of Federation troops and steal their uniforms. Shrinker tried to discover who Bartholomew was. He gives Avon the name of Councillor Chesku and says that the only person who knew who Bartholomew was is Servalan. Avon teleports out of the cave leaving Shrinker alone there with a gun as his only escape. Avon asks Orac to locate Servalan. Sula's disguised troops attack and take Servalan hostage. Sula's men want to kill Servalan but Sula refuses, wanting to use her and get her to resign forming a people's council to replace her. Avon intends to go to the house alone but the rest of the crew insist on helping them. Avon, Tarrant, Cally & Dayna teleport to the house infiltrate it. The find an injured survelance officer who directs them to the basement where they find Servalan chained to a wall. Servalan believes Avon is behind the attack but when he frees her Sula enters the room and Avon recognises here as Anna. Avon is suspicous of her survival, and with Shrinker's word ringing in his ears he comes to a startling revelation: Anna was Bartholomew. A disbelieving Avon shoots her and she dies claiming she loved him. As the house is retaken by Federation troops, Tarrant, Dayna & Cally are teleported back to the Liberator by a nervous Vila. Avon frees Servalan, but she finds a gun and intends to shoot him, but is distracted by one of the rebels as Avon teleports back to the ship and escapes.

Brilliant, Fabulous stuff. Loved this episode from when I first saw it way back in 1992 on it's video release and still love it now. From start to finish nothing is wasted with everything eventually coming together. Even Forres AND Grenlee, the two Federation survelance technicians that form a Greek chorus to the early part of the episode eventually feature with the dying Grenlee guiding Avon & Tarrant to Servalan.

It's obviously Avon's episode and he's clearly in charge right the way through as he should have been right the way throughout this series. You can make a case with him being distracted, he's obviously been planning this for a long while and I suggest the seeds were sown in Countdown when he met Anna's brother Del and was reminded of the events surrounding Anna's disapearance.

(I wonder if Del ever finds out that his sister is a Federation agent? You can bet your life that there's a Fanfic out there where he does or BigFinish will do a radio play round the subject)

Shrinker is a genuinely nasty piece of work, horrible. You feel he gets what he deserves. And yet the scene of Vila, Tarrant & Dayna turning on him is genuinely quite disturbing as is his fate: A slow death trapped in a room or a quick death on the business end of a gun! There is a fantastic piece of work at the start of the cave sequence: for what I think is the first time the camera remains fixed on Avon and Shrinker as they teleport with background the changing changing from the teleport bay to the cave. Avon's flashbacks, both in visual and in voice over, are a bit different to what we're used to as well. Top work from first time director Fiona Cumming who would later helm the Doctor Who stories Castrovalva, Snakedance, Enlightenment & Planet of Fire.

A rather big aside here: knowing Fiona Cumming was directing I took a look at the cast and crew to see if her Husband Ian Fraser was involved. He isn't but I did spot two names there I recognised: The Production Assistant is Edwina Craze, wife of former Doctor Who companion Michael Craze (Ben Jackson) who she met on the set of Tenth Planet where she was performing the same role as here. She also PA'd for the Doctor Who stories Enemy of the World, The Mind Robber, The Krotons, the War Games episode 10 and Terror of the Zygons as well as Blake's 7 episodes Powerplay, Volcano & Sarcophagus. Menawhile the Assistant Floor Manager is Antony Root who AFM'd for the same Blake's 7 stories that Craze PA'd plus Dawn of the Gods & Terminal as well as for the Doctor Who episode Destiny of the Daleks 4, becoming Doctor Who's temporary script editor in 1981.

It's hard to pin down exactly who Anna Grant is: we know that's her real name because of her brother Del (Countdown) but she's also been Federation Agent Batholemew and Sula, wife of Counciller Chesku. Did she really love Avon, as she claimed at the end of the episode, or was she just with him to bring him down? Then there's the rebel group she's involved with: I'm not sure they're anti Federation as such, just anti-President and very anti-Servalan. And given her multi facted nature I'm not 100% sure that Anna isn't using them to unseat Servalan and take over herself! Avon's actions here actually help supress a rebel movement and keep Servalan in power though she's about as grateful as ever and would have shot him if it wasn't for the rebel interupting at the wrong moment. Yes I suspect the approaching Federation forces would have wiped out the rebels anyway but it's debatable whether Servalan would have still been alive when they found her. She looks genuinely broken when Avon finds her in the cellar (Or is this an act for him?) and only really comes to life when she realises how mistaken her old foe has been about his long lost lady love!

There's a line in this episode about the house being restored and the basement being genuine (amusingly it's the only part of the house, bar the control room, not filmed on location but rather as a set in the studio!) and dating back to the pre atomic era. Is this the first time we've had a hint that the Federation is a post atomic war society?

Does Zen speak in this episode? I don't think so!

Earth is the first planet the Liberator has visited in two episodes - Pressure Point and here. You can throw in an extra appearance in The Way Back too. But this is it's last appearance and next season Earth will be massively overtaken as the planet visited most often.

Guest cast: I had a good look for something else that I knew Lorna Heilbron, Ann/Bartholomew/Sula, from but couldn't see anything. Until his death she was married to Nicholas Clay, who was Lancelot in one of my favourite films Excalibur. Shrinker was played by John Bryans who was previously Bercol in A6 Seek-Locate-Destroy & B6 Trial. He's got a Doctor Who appearance in Creature from the Pit where he plays Torvin. Also in Doctor Who are our two Federation surveillance officers: Donald Douglas, Grenlee, was in The Sontaran Experiment as Vural (more recently he was Mark Darcy's dad in both Bridget Jones films) while Forres is David Haig's second acting job for TV. His third would be in Doctor Who: The Leisure Hive as Pandrell. He'd become a familiar face many years later with roles including DI Grim in The Thin Blue Line and Bernard, the groom at Wedding 2 in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Philip Bloomfield plays Balon (who? One of the rebels I assume) also gets a brief Doctor Who appearance as a Foster in The Keeper of Traken part four.

Now he's done with Anna, Avon can get on with the other task that's been on his to do list..... Unfortunately we have Sarcophagus and a few other turkeys to deal with first!

Rumours of Death was repeated on 22/06/81. It was released on video on 7th April 1992 on tape 17 paired with the previous episode Children of Auron and alongside tape 18 Sarcophagus & Ultraworld. Tape 17 was also available as an exclusive from Woolworths stores containing a bonus interview with Paul Darrow. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20th June 2005.

Monday, 21 October 2013

C7 Children of Auron

EPISODE: C7 Children of Auron
BROADCAST: 18/02/1980
WRITTEN BY: Roger Parkes
DIRECTOR: Andrew Morgan
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

"Democracy. You're outvoted, Avon. Three to two."
"Four to one. I like to stay with the winners whenever possible."

The Liberator is en route to Earth so Avon can eliminate Shrinker the torturer who killed his girlfriend Anna Grant. Servalan rescues a pilot from Auron and then, after giving him refreshment and repairing his ship, releases him. Cally explains to Tarrant & Dayna how she left her isolationist world to become a resistance fighter on Saurian Major. The pilot arrives on Auron dead and from a plague Servalan has infected him with. Cally senses the mass death from the plague occurring on Auron. Auron prepares to evacuate it's genetic stock which is being looked after Cally's twin Zelda who is summoning her sister. The Liberator diverts to assists, against Avon's wishes. Servalan wants to use the Auron genetic replication technology so she can reproduce but has planned to seize the Liberator in the process. The Liberator brings one of the ailing Auron aboard for analysis. Avon, Cally & Tarrant are taken prisoner by Federation troops in the auron control centre while Servalan has her genetic print taken by the Auron gene scientists. Orac succesfully treats the Auron brought aboard the Liberator. Servalan demands that Vila surrenders the Liberator to her unaware Dayna is aboard. When Servalan sends an officer aboard Dayna takes him prisoner. Vila threatens to destroy Servalan's ship but Servalan tells him the only cure to the disease thgey are now infected with is aboard. Zelda's colleague Franton distracts the guards allowing Avon, Tarrant & Cally to escape and they take shelter in the replication plant with Zelda and Servalan's developing embryos. Dayna teleports to the Replication plant bringing enough bracelets for the crew but Zelda remains behind to tned the Embryoes. Servalan is decieved by one of her officers, Ginka, into believing the embryos have fertilised using on of her other officers gene stocks and opens fire on the Replication plant destroying it and killing Zelda. Servalan senses the embyoes death and realising she has been decieved she kills Ginka before Avon returns their hostage before laying a course in for the planet Karn to deliver the two surviving Auron and the gene stock to a potential colony.

Very close to being very good. Just not quite there.

The main thrust of the plot is fab: Servalan infects an entire planet with a pathogen just so you she can reproduce, selling it as another attempt to take the Liberator (Federation troops on the ship count: 4 out of 7 this series) The planet that's supplying the technology to enable her to reproduce through cloning is Auron, where Cally is from, and a byproduct of the cloning process is what gives the younger members of the Auron their telepathic ability: otherwise they're just normal humans. (There's a neat throwaway line about the destruction of the Clonemasters to cover why Servalan isn't using the technique we saw in Weapon to produce Clones of her)

Hang on a second, the telepathy is a result of the cloning process? Just a few episodes previously Cally was recounting the legend of the Thraan who was supposedly responsible for giving the Auron their telepathy. Oi, Boucher: do your job properly and make the series internally consistant!

Cally's reluctant to return to her home: her people are isolationists. I think this might clash a little with the explanation given in Time Squad, which gets referanced here but hey to. Hang on wasn't the Liberator purposefully going to Auron at the start of Dawn of the Gods ? Hmmmmm. In this episode we're en route to Earth so Avon can kill the torturer Shrinker who killed his girlfriend Anna Grant: a direct link to the next episode and back to Countdown, where Avon met Anna's brother. And Servalan's entire plot may even have been inspired by a previous episode, Killer, where a colony is wiped out by a plague.

The point the episode goes off the rails a bit is it's handling of Ginka, one of Servalan's crew. It's obvious he's a nasty piece of work who enjoys his job a bit too much from the word go so it's not really a surprise to find out halfway through that he wants his captain's job and hates him, even if it does suddenly leap to the forefront. However for a plot point that's absoloutely crucial in the end, motivating Ginka's lies to Servalan causing her to destroy the reproduction unit, it's introduced late and might have worked better as a slow drip drip drip throughout the episode.

Ginka seems to handle the line about technician Franton being the original Franton's daugher very very badly. You think what's the point of labouring that tiny detail? I can only conclude that somewhere down the line it was relevent that she didn't have telepathy and that then's got lost in later versions of the script.

It's not the only point the script feels odd in the episode Avon's insistance that they don't get involved with personal matter is completely undermined by him having stated just minutes earlier that they're on their way to Earth to kill someone as an act of revenge. But Vila not destroying Servalan's ship because the only cure for the disease is on board? He's got an Auron that Orac has just cured standing next to him at the time! There again if anyone is going to make a mistake and fall for that it's going to be Vila.

Servalan has never struck me as the motherly type so I'm wondering where this sudden desire for children and prolonging her legacy has come from..... close call with Death following Star One? Her romantic encounter with Jarvik in Harvest of Kairos? A bit of both perhaps? Yes the public reason for this operation is to seize the Liberator but the real reason is the desire to produce children. That's why she's gone to Auron in the first place and why she's having the Auron sent to to her ship for cure in protective suits in small numbers: they need the suits to get unnoticed to the replication plant. Presumably that's why they got Franton sent over first - did the episode also loose something about them brainwashing her to ensure co-operation with Servalan's scheme?

So Avon & Co hole up in the Replication Unit. Servalan won't destroy it cos her embryos inside. So to get her to destroy it Ginka convinces her that his commander Deral has substituted his genetic material and she destroys the replication plant. Fine so far. But first watch through I wondered how did Servalan know that the embryos were hers afterwards Her line "I felt them die" feels a bit too emotional for her? The answer is the embryos have the telepathic gift from the Auron cloning process - she's in contact with them when they die. I'd seen it claimed that Servalan's experiences here are the reason she wears black for the rest of the series, in mourning for her lost children. Decent theory except *this* is the episode she starts wearing black in after having dressed near exclusivley in white before. Ok then so why is she crying before launching the attack then? It's because she believes she's been decieved by Derral, she must kill Avon and the only was to do it is to throw away her chance at reproducing. Though I'd have thought given that it's Servalan we're dealing with a fit of anger leading to her launching the attack would be the most likely response *and*then* emotional shift to the shock at what she's done.

Zelda's death in the rocket attack annoyed me: it's a bit too Adric. Any character charging off to die pointlessly is silly!

My biggest problem with the episode though is the ending. I do not like Americain style end the episodes with everyone laughing endings one bit. But using one here is a gigantic mis-step: We've just witnessed Servalan commit genocide during the episode and we end with the Liberator crew laughing. Wrong. Very very very wrong. Leaves a very bad taste in the mouth after what was otherwise a really good episode.

(an extra thought thought occurs to me on the ending: is everyone else on Auron dead? Could the Liberator have helped any remaining survivors giving them Orac's cure)

Things we've seen before: look it's another circular room, this time serving as the Auron control room. I'm so used to seeing rooms with straight walls that everytime I see a round room it jumps out at me..... but it might also be that I thinks that this is the same set as the bar in Gambit and the control room in Star One redressed. The helmets worn by the Federation troopers are missing their visors again (Volcano). Oh and one of the Federation Troopers is apparently 'Aitch making his only appearance of the season.

Ginka is played by Ric Young Who would later appear as Kao Kan in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. The actor that played Deral, his commander, is Rio Fanning who was in Doctor Who - The Horror of Fang Rock as Harker. CA One, the Auron Controller, is Ronald Leigh-Hunt who's got two Whos to his name The Seeds of Death as Commander Radnor & Revenge of the Cybermen as Commander Stevenson. The infected Auron Pilot Four Zero that brings the disease to the planet is Michael Troughton, the son of Patrick who's recently written a very good biography of his father. Cally's twin Zelda is played by Jan Chappell in addition to her usual role as Cally. She's not the only member of the cast to play two roles: Gareth Thomas doubles up as a Blake clone in Weapon and Stephen Pacey plays Tarrant's brother Deeta in Ultraworld. Jan Chappel's got another dual credit in Sarcophagus but if I'm remembering right that one's a bit odd and it's dubious to if she's Cally or not. Of course Peter Tuddenham voices two roles nearly every week!

This is writer Roger Parkes second Blake's 7 episode after Voice From The Past, but director Andrew Morgan's only episode for this series. He'd later direct the Doctor Who stories Time & The Rani and Rememberance of the Daleks. Morgan uses Leeds Polytechnic (now Leeds Metropolitan University) Civil Engineering Dept as the location for the cloning plant and Thruscross Reservoir for the exterior chase sequence where the size of structure add to what we're seeing.

Incredibly Children of Auron wasn't repeated during the June/July 81 repeat run of Blake's 7 series 3. In my opinion it's the best episode of the series they left out and substantially worse episodes were included! Children of Auron was released on video on 07the April 1992 on tape 17 paired with the following episode Rumours of Death and alongside tape 18 Sarcophagus & Ultraworld. Tape 17 was also available as an exclusive from Woolworths stores containing a bonus interview with Paul Darrow. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20the June 2005.

Monday, 14 October 2013

C6 City at the Edge of the World

EPISODE: C6 City at the Edge of the World
BROADCAST: 11/02/1980
WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: Vere Lorrimer
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

"He's irritating but useful: We can easily replace a pilot but a talented thief is rare"

Tarrant forces Vila to teleport down to the planet Kezam to help the inhabitants in return for the crystals they need to power the Liberator's Main Blasters. When Cally teleports down to collect the crystals Avon's suspicions about the people they're dealing with prove correct when it turns out to be booby trapped. Vila is taken to a place the locals call the City on the Edge of the World. He is captured by space pirate Bayban the Butcher who wants a door in the city opened behind which the planet's leader says lies "This world and the next". Bayban believes that it houses a vast treasure store. Avon & Cally teleport to the planet to rescue Vila. Vila suspects that the local leader Norl may be using Bayban to get the door open. Avon & Cally encounter the Pirates and track them. Villa penetrates the force field door and steps inside with the pirate Kerril but it reseals behind them. Avon & Cally find three pirates and force them to tell them where Vila is. Vila & Kerril are teleported to a room containing two ancient bodies. A recording speaks to them explaining the fall of the civilisation and how they developed teleportation, which has brought them to a Starship bound for a planet to colonise. They are trapped with their air running out. All four remaining human members of the Liberator's crew teleport to the city and attack the pirates. Vila deduces the ship has landed and they are breathing fresh air. Avon & Cally capture Bayban while Vila & Kerril escape onto the surface where Vila finds a supply of the crystals the Liberator needs. The city unexpectedly starts to get darker as Vila returns and Bayban escapes. Norl tells the Liberator crew that his people are summoned to the city and, grateful to Vila for opening the door, they leave for the new world. Kerril wants to accompany them and encourages Vila to go with her. Bayban returns to kill Kerril and she flees to the other planet. Bayban turns his laser cannon on the forcefield door as Vila teleports back to the Liberator and the reflected blast kills him. A dejected Vila returns to the ship and gives them the crystals they need.

In case you're not sure: this is the Vila episode. He gets the vast majority of the story to himself, gets a lady friend and shows off his skills as a thief. Is it really a Blake's 7 episode? Well my friend Karl said:

I quite enjoy City on the Edge of the World. It falls into that category of "episodes that have nothing to do with the shows themes" but manages to be quite entertaining nevertheless.
and he's hit the nail on the head.

Unlike the last episode's farce with collecting Avon's rock there's a reason for the Liberator being there: They need crystals for the weapons system and Bayban claims to have them in trade for Vila's services which makes sense (and indeed possible explains what Avon & Vila were doing searching for crystals last week)

Tarrent's bullying of Vila to force him to cooperate is particularly unpleasant and it's good to see Avon standing up to him and looking after Vila. Avon's been in the background too much recently: you could almost argue he's been distracted by something. If you've seen the rest of the series you'll know that Avon has two things on his mind (Rumours of Death & Terminal) and making this clear would explain his disinterest in much that's happened as well as explaining how Tarrant can get away with acting like he owns the place even though he's a complete idiot as shown here. There's a sense that Tarrant having mucked it up again rouses Avon from whatever he's doing to a point where he's gone "right let's show him how it's done properly"

I do have a theory as to why Avon's kept Tarrant around and let him do what he wants for a few episodes: Avon needs a pilot. Sure Avon can get Zen to move the ship from A to B but for anything more complicated, especially "interacting" with Federation Pursuit Ships that's beyond Avon's abilities at this moment in time. There's a distinct hint he gets better as the series goes on but at this moment in time Avon needs Tarrant there. What Tarrant needs is putting in his place and that doesn't really happen on screen.

But it is Vila's episode and his interaction with Bayban the Butcher and Kerril is what the show is about and it's fab to watch as Vila goes about reasoning how the locks work demonstrating his craft. The "getting past multiple doors", especially connected with finding ancient bodies and a recording waiting at the end, remind me a lot of the "getting past the traps" sequences in Doctor Who's Death to the Daleks and Hand of Fear.

Chris Boucher even remembers that Dayna designs weapons in this episode with her passing Cally a concealed gun and bringing a heat seeking weapon down to the planet with her!

Bayban is a fabulously over the top,almost pantomime, villain played by future Doctor Who Colin Baker. Years later Paul Darrow would guest star in one of Colin Baker's Doctor Who stories Timelash and, like Colin here, turn in an incredibly over the top performance! One of his henchmen, Sherm, is played by John J. Carney who was in the Doctor Who story The Time Warrior as Bloodaxe while the other Kerril is played by Carol Hawkins who was in a number of the later Carry On films. And if you don't recognise who's playing Norl (and the recorded voice) by his voice the SHAME ON YOU! It's Valentine Dyall, known to Radio audiences as The Man In Black but recently seen by sci fi fans in Doctor Who: The Armageddon Factor as The Black Guardian (he'd return in Mawdryn Undead, Terminus & Enlightenment in 1983) as well as voicing Gargaval in the second series of Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy on the radio (checks dates) and Deep Thought in the 1981 television adaptation of the first series.

The door Bayban is trying to open is set in our favourite Triangle wallpanels. Bayban's black studded gloves will get used again - keep an eye out for them.

I'm suspecting the title of this episode - City on the Edge of the World - owes something to the similarly named Star Trek episode City on the Edge of Forever even if the plots are dissimilar.

City at the Edge of the World was repeated on 15/06/81 as part of the partial repeat run of Series 3. After the first two episodes the next three, all of which I had problems with, were skipped over till this one. City at the Edge of the World was realeased on video on Blake's tape 16 on 7th January 1992 paired with the previous episode The Harvest of Kairos and alongside tape 15 Volcano & Dawn of the Gods. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20th June 2005.

Monday, 7 October 2013

C5 The Harvest of Kairos

EPISODE: C5 The Harvest of Kairos
BROADCAST: 04/02/1980
DIRECTOR: Gerald Blake
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: David Maloney
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 3

" But first, there is the matter of that degrading and primitive act you subjected me to in the control room... I should like you to do it again."

Avon & Vila are on a planet gaining mineral samples when the Liberator encounters two Federation ships. Servalan's battle tactics are questioned by a low grade worker Jarvik who claims he could take the Liberator with three ships. When the Liberator escapes Jarvik, a former Federation Captain, correctly predicts that the Liberator is heading for the planet Kairos in time for it's harvest of Kairopan crystals. Avon is having the mineral he has collected Soporan analysed by Orac and takes no interest in Tarrant's plan to attack the transport leaving the planet. Servalan has the harvest workers abandoned on Kairos' surface and as the Liberator moves into strike Jarvik attacks. Cally is missing, working with Avon on a telepathic experiment with the Soporan and as a result the ship is damaged. The attacking ships are destroyed and Servalan blames Jarvik but he tells her it was a ruse. Tarrant, Dayna, Vila & Cally board the shuttle and steal a number of crates of Kairopan. They are ambushed but saved by Avon. However the crates contain Federation troops who quickly take the Liberator. Their leader Captain Shad teleports to Servalan's control room and invites Jarvik to inspect the captured ship, but he allows Servalan the privilege instead. She holds the crew at gunpoint instructing them to get Zen to acknowledge her voice pattern. Servalan maroons the crew on Kairos which is about to become hostile to human life. They discover a webbed body. Servalan dispatches Jarvik to defeat Tarrant on Kairos and retrieve the Teleport bracelets. Avon finds an old spacecraft in a hanger on a Kairos. Jarvik encounters huge insects on the planet's surface. Dayna is trapped by one of the insects but is saved by Jarvik who holds her hostage. He fights with Tarrant, defeating him and taking the Teleport bracelets from everyone bar Dayna who refuses to surrender hers. Attacked by an insect while struggling Jarvik has both of them teleported to the Liberator. Servalan orders Zen to attack the planet's surface as Tarrant manages to launch the space capsule. Avon instructs Tarrant to hail the Liberator and order their surrender. Avon uses the Soporan to deceive the Liberator into believing they can destroy the ship. Javrik is killed by Servalan's guard as she evacuates to the Kairopan transporter and the the rest of the Liberator's crew returns to the ship. Avon erases Servalan's voice pattern from Zen's memory.

Where on Earth do you start? Wrong on so many levels.

Yes it's obviously a re-written Blake/Travis script (for Tarrant/Jarvik) Look at it that way and Servalan's desire to get Tarrant, a character she's hardly met before, and Tarrant's leadership suddenly make much more sense. Avon's horribly written, preoccupied with his lump of rock which is a complete dues ex machina: it's only purpose is to resolve the end of the episode so Avon then must be interested in it all the way through even though there's no reason at the start of the episode to suggest he's got a reason to collect it! However the next episode shows that the Liberator needs crystals in it's weapons system replacing: inserting a line here about "we didn't find the crystals but Avon's found this bit of rock he's interested in" would have added a reason for them to be on the planet, given some connection between this episode & the next and helped to explain Avon's actions for the rest of the episode.

Then we have Jarvik, unzipped to the navel and displaying a horrible attitude towards Servalan and women in general. We've seen Servalan taking an interest in her officers before and I could see her liking (pardon the expression) a "bit of rough" for her own amusement but the way she goes gooey at the knees for Javrik forcing himself on her is a little disturbing. She tends to behave almost Schizophrenically towards him during the episode alternately fawning at his feet and then ordering his punishment/death. That second bit looks more like the Servalan we know. You get the feeling almost that Jarvik is being set up to be a recurring character (see the Thraan last week) then without warning he's suddenly shot by accident. Yet more evidence of a rewritten Travis script with the death tagged onto the end? We'll return to the sort of attitudes seen here in other scripts from writer Ben Steed who is making his Blake's 7 debut here.

We've got Federation Troops on the Liberator though these ones have got silly uniforms and not the standard ones seen elsewhere in this episode, which are now reunited with their visors following Volcano. But this is Servalan's first trip to the Liberator, the first time she's teleported and the first time she speaks to Zen. Her escape by teleport will provide an answer to a question in the final episode of the season. The Space Command model is back but the insides are now very different, now featuring the UFO curved panels in the control room.

I've seen worse giant insects on the TV screen. Yes I'm looking at you Zarbi! Somethings bugging me about the way the insect retreats when it gets the Kairopan back: if it's happy when the crystals are returned why did every other visitor to the planet get killed? If it's not then why doesn't it kill Dayna. If anything I'd have considered the episode more satisfying if Dayna had slipped Jarvik the Kairopan and the insect killed him: him being beaten by a woman would have served as a decent fate for someone who displays the attitudes he did earlier. I'm wondering if Ben Steed realised this after the episode was finished as this is exactly the fate the awaits the next sexist male to fight Dayna!

Struggling. Really struggling with these season 3 episodes. Aftermath and, even more so, Powerplay were great and it's all been downhill since then.

Andrew Burt, playing Jarvik, was the original Jack Sugden in Emerdale Farm. A few years after this episode he appeared in the 1982 Doctor Who story Terminus as Valgard. Servalan's advisor at the start of the episode, Dastor, is played by Frank Gatliff who already had a Doctor Who credit to his name appearing in 1974's Monster of Peladon as Orton but Anthony Gardner, Captain Shad, appeared in the BBC's older science fiction series even earlier than that in 1967's The Macra Terror where he played Alvis.

The surface scenes of Kairos were filmed at Bovingdon Airfield, Hertfordshire.

The Harvest of Kairos was released on video on Blake's tape 16 on 7th January 1992 paired with the next episode City at the Edge of the World and alongside tape 15 Volcano & Dawn of the Gods. Blake's 7 season 3 was released on DVD on 20th June 2005.