WRITTEN BY: Chris Boucher
DIRECTOR: Mary Ridge
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: Vere Lorrimer
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 4
"Have you betrayed us? Have you betrayed *ME*?"
Scorpio launches from Xenon base and as they leave the base is rocked by explosions destroying it completely. Avon has been unwilling to take the risk that Zukon, or one of his conspiartors told Servalan the base's location.
See the events of Warlord.Vila is in favour of running away to safety but Avon has other plans
I said at the time this was a big mistake. Xenon had one thing going for it: Nobody knew where it was. Once people know, it's compromised. As it was the damage it suffered from Zukon's bombs in Warlord and would have used a lot of work to repair it.
We've seen Scorpio landing a few times but I think this is the only showing of the full launch sequence from Silo, elevated up through to the Hanger Bay and out
"In the end, winning is the only safety."He believes the Rebel Alliance is workable still, all it needs is the right figurehead.
"He is strongly identified with rebels, you see. And very popular with rabbles. They will follow him and he will fight to the last drop of their blood.Avon explains that Orac has tracked who they need to a planet called Gauda Prime which shocks Soolin as no self respecting idealist would be found there. Tarrant asks Avon who he's talking about and Villa realises that Avon has finally found Blake.
Idealism is a wonderful thing, all you need is someone rational to put it to proper use."
Blake was last seen in the final episode of the second season, Star One, where he was shot. In the first episode of the third season, Aftermath, he was reported injured and the crew was fdorced to eject from the Liberator in individual life pods. Blake and Jenna were never seen again. Servalan lured Avon to Terminal by falsifying messages from Blake and even went to the trouble of producing an illusionary version of the rebel leader but later told Avon that Blake had died on the planet Gevron over a year ago.
Blake sits at a camp fire in a wood roasting meat on an open fire as he is approached by a young armed woman. He entices her into the open by offering to share the food with her. He's wary of her Federation Issue gun and asks where she got it from. She asks him if she looks like a "One of theirs" and Blake replies that he can't really tell anymore.
Returning as Blake is actor Gareth Thomas. He had certain stipulations for appearing in this episode which we'll come to later....Avon explains that he's sure Servalan lied to them on Terminal and Vila reminds him that their visit there seeking Blake cost Cally her life. He admits he has known Blake is there for sometime and would have left him there if the plan with Zukon had worked. Arlen leaves Blake her gun as payment for the food. She is attacked by bounty hunters: She kills two of them and Blake slays the third. She said she thought they were four and he admits he is the fourth and takes her prisoner.
The Girl, Arlen, is played by an actress named Sasha Mitchell. She'd later play a recurring role in the Ruth Rendell Mysteries. Oddly there's a male actor of the same name in America!
The Gauda Prime exteriors are filmed in Bourne Woods, Farnham, Surrey the location used for the opening sequences in Gladiator and many other productions.
Arlen may be carrying a Federation Gun, but so is Blake. He has one, minus it's stock, tucked into his belt.
His words that he can't really tell who's Federation and who's not have a somewhat prophetic element in them...
Almost all the extras/supporting artists in this episode have some prior connection to the programme. One of the bounty hunters Arlen kills is Steve Kelly who was in Deliverance as a Scavenger, Gambit as a Customer/Gambler, The Keeper as a Goth Guard and Power as a Hommik Warrior (all uncredited) as well as a Sea Devil (in The Sea Devils) and an Ogron (in Frontier in Space) in Doctor Who. The other is Steve Whyment who was in Stardrive as a Space Rat, Warlord as a Federation Trooper and has a couple of uncredited roles in Doctor Who). The third, who Blake kills and we later discover is called Tando is played by Barry Summerford. He was in the very first episode of Blake's 7, The Way Back, as a Federation Trooper making him one of only four actors to be in the first and the last episodes of the series. Two of them are obvious: Gareth Thomas as Blake and Michael Keating as Vila. The other less so because Paul Darrow, Avon, doesn't appear in the first episode! We'll highlight this actor's identity later. Summerford was also in Pressure Point & Voice from the Past as Rebels, Gambit as a Customer/Gambler, Volcano as a Federation Commando and Dawn of the Gods as a Monster. He's also got plenty of uncredited Doctor Who to his name.Orac tells Scorpio's crew that Blake is working as a Bounty Hunter, which shocks them as they see it as being out of character. Tarrant worries that he may seek to claim the bounty on their heads. Soolin says she was born on Gauda Prime to a farming family. When valuable minerals were found Gauda Prime was declared an Open Planet and the rule of law was suspended and her parents were killed. Gauda Prime has made application to reinstate law. Gauda Prime is employing bounty hunters to clear out the undesirable elements.
We know from Rescue that Soolin's parents were murdered and she killed those responsible. Now we find out where she's from and some more of the circumstances behind what happened. And that represents all we know about Soolin. 13 episodes and that's it.Slave attempts to interupt Orac but is overiden so he sounds the alarms on Scorpio telling them they are in orbit round Gauda Prime but are under attack.
Some fabulous banter between both of Peter Tuddenham's computer roles here!On Gauda Prime the girl is injured and making slow progress to her captor's flyer when she collapses Blake tells her to get up. She insists he use her name, Arlen, and he tells her that his is Roj Blake.
BIG mistake Blake.....Scorpio is being attacked by a number of ships and looses control as it enters the atmosphere.
The ships are unidentified here but aren't the standard Federation Pursuit Ship. We'll learn what they are a little later.Vila, Soolin and Dayna teleport to the surface.
Oddly they look a lot like the "Federation Interceptor" toy marketed by Blue Box Toys in 1978 under the Blake's 7 logo!
There's an odd sequence here where Avon's words don't seem to match his mouth movement as he orders them to powerdive the atmosphere.
Women and cowards first!But with Slave unable to take over the flight controls Tarrant must remain at his station to control the ship as Avon teleports to the planet with Orac.
Avon's goodbye to Tarrant actually feels like he means it and doesn't expect to see him again.Scorpio ploughs into the ground with it's flight deck ripped to pieces.
Things Phil learnt from watching this episode as an 8 year old: Orac can operate the teleport. I'd not seen anything before season 4 so hadn't seen him operate the system on the Liberator. What I'd forgotton is that he had operates the teleport on Xenon base in Power this season!
We see those on the surface throwing themselves at the ground. How on earth did Villa get in front of Soolin & Dayna? They strike me as being far fitter than he is! The answer may lie in Tarrent's statement to Slave that he's going to turn the ship. Vila's lagging behind and then suddenly they all reverse the direction they're running in to avoid the ship.
"The ground is very close sir!"
Top, top model sequence of Scorpio ploughing into the forrest & ground. Tarrant's chair & console slipping all over the flightdeck however......Avon asks Orac where the nearest settlement is and how does he get to it. Blake delivers Arlen into captivity. While counting gems he talks with Deva who is worried that Blake killed another bounty hunter. He selects Blake more targets to pursue but is interrupted by Klyn who informs them of the crash of a ship that tried to run the blockade: Blake decides to investigate. Deva tells Blake he has been temporarily appointed a law enforcement officer. Deva tells him that time is getting short because the Federation official is due shortly and they can't afford mistakes. Arlen tells Deva she has information on the man who brought her in. Klyn tells Blake she can detect a distress beacon.
Now is a good point to mention that this episode is directed by Mary Ridge who also helmed Rescue, Power, Animals & Headhunter this season. She also directed Terminal last series so was in charge of the destructions of both Liberator and Scorpio. Bear that in mind as one of Scorpio's floor panels rises up and Tarrant slips down it: there's an identical seuence in Terminal.
At the end of the crash sequence Scorpio tips over. It's a little difficult to see why, there must be a massive dip in the ground just closer to us than where we can see.
The entire exchange between Blake & Deva deserves watching a few times. It appears Blake's counting what he's been paid and that Deva is concerned that they finish rounding up the undesirables before that. Later events suggest otherwise.The distress signal is being transmitted by Orac who is attempting to summon help on Avon's orders. Villa, Dayna and Soolin shelter in an abandoned house but when a flyer passes overhead Dayna & Soolin prevent Vila from attracting it's attention.
Playing Deva is the great David Collings who was Silver in Saphire & Steel. He'd already been in Doctor Who twice as Vorus in Revenge of the Cybermen and Poul in the Chris Boucher written The Robots of Death and would return as Mawdryn in the Mawdryn Undead.
We'll come to who's playing Klyn later!
It's unclear who is operating the flyer but what follows after makes it seem that there's a good chance that it's Blake. Things could have been so much different if Vila had been allowed to signal it!
A barely concious Tarrant lies in the wreckage of Scorpio as Slave explains a flying vehilce is approaching before he is forced to shut down due to damage and a lack of power.
Just as in Zen's final moments he referred to himself as I for the first time, in Slave's he uses Tarrant's name instead of calling him Master like he has referred to the male members of the crew all season.Laser bolts penetrate the wreckage and Tarrant is ordered to shelter by Blake who has been hiding in the wreckage. Blake shoots the ship down.
I was upset that Slave died as a kid :-( I like to think he's still intact out in the wreck and that some day he'll be salvaged by someone.
Blake's obviously been there some while. It's later made clear he's heard Slave's report.Dayna, Soolin & Vila have lit a fire, which attracts attention from Bounty Hunters, but they are saved by Avon.
Bear in mind that Blake has never met Tarrant before: neither is sure of the other's identity.
The other ship may also have been the one Vila heard.
"The fire was stupid. Putting Vila on guard was suicidal. What's the matter, is staying alive too complicated for you?"Orac tells them that the Bounty Hunters were investigating their distress signal. Avon tells them they have been walking in the wrong direction and that they can use the bounty hunters flyer. He refuses to answer their questions about Tarrant.
Blake explains to Tarrant that the people who attacked them were gun runners he was dealing with who he thinks were going to cheat him for the jewels.
So the jewels, which we saw earlier, were Blake's payment for guns from the gunrunners.....In the morning Avon, Vila, Dayna and Soolin walk to the flyer owned by the bounty hunters Avon killed when Orac reports that another flyer has just taken off. Avon says that will act as their guide. Blake & Tarrant head to Blake's base via an evasive pattern pursued by the flyer containing Avon and the others. Blake that he tells Tarrant he was taught the evasive pattern by a smuggler named Jenna who was killed when she was attacked by the ships blockading the planet and hit the self destruct button.
Blake's playing with a damaged Scorpio teleport bracelet in this scene!
Blake's dropping of Jenna's name is an obvious trick to see if Tarrant recognises it: the logic being if he's soent any time with Avon then Avon will have mentioned her. This is the first on screen mention of Jenna since C2 Powerplay.Orac tells Avon that Blake is approaching his base and about to enter an underground Silo. He tells Avon that he can both follow and open the silo doors.
As an 8 year old who'd only seen season 4 I knew the crew of the Liberator had been different in the past but I had no idea who Blake, Jenna or Cally were. I only discovered when I read a copy of the Blake's 7 Program Guide by Trevor Hoyle.
Do we believe Blake's story? We know that Jenna wasn't in the same location as Blake the last time we heard of her so it's nice to think they found each other. On the other hand the though of her dying at the hands of the Gauda Prime blockade isn't a particularly nice one. Blake may have been making it up but that's a very strong emotional response when he tells of her death so I think we have to assume what he's saying is true. Jenna was there and now she's dead.
"Sooner or later we're going to drop into one of these holes in the ground and never come out"When Tarrant & Blake arrive at Blake's base, Klyn notes increased traffic from transports and flyers in the area and speculates that the Federation Observer may have finally arrived. Blake takes Tarrant to Deva. Blake draws Tarrant's gun on him, telling Deva that his captive's name is Tarrant, which he heard his flight computer say while he was unconcious.
"Sooner or later, everyone does that, Vila"
And *THAT* is the last we see or hear of Orac, sat on Soolin's lap in the back of the flyer. He's not present in the scenes that followed so we must assume that Avon left him there or concealed him as they enter the base....
Peter Tuddenham who played Orac has few television acting roles to his name after Blake's 7 but does return to Doctor Who as The Brain voice in the last two episodes of the 1987 story The Time of the Rani. He died on 9th July 2007, ahed 88.
Note he prevents Deva from putting Tarrant into the law enforcement computer system.Blake tells Deva that Tarrant has several associates with high prices on their heads, one of whom is particularly valuable. Tarrant tells Blake that the others are dead but Blake was aware of the other flyer tracking them and had deduced Orac was aboard. He says if it was Avon then they shouldn't have long to wait. Klyn reports the flyer has landed in the Silo. Blake asks for a security guard to go and meet them and is assigned Arlen.
"What on earth happened to you?"Tarrant rushes them and escapes into the complex. Arlen wants to kill him but Blake says that when Tarrant knows as much as she does now then he'll join them and that he passed the test. Deva complains that Blake keeps playing stupid games with those he tries to recruit and should be more careful or he'll get someone killed. Blake says he needs to test every recruit himself. Deva complains that he set up systems for that, broke their security codes on their central computer, got them access to official channels, information, ebverything they could possibly need and Blake doesn't need to be involved. Blake syas he finds it diffcult to trust and asks Blake to indulge him.
"Oh, most of it wasn't on Earth. Not what happened to me."
And that's the first time Deva uses Blake's name. It's been Bounty Hunter up until this point. This is where we're sure that Blake's bounty hunter bit is just a routine. So the question now is what are they up to?Deva says he has no choice: he says he promised he'd follow Blake and will until the Federation is destroyed. He asks Blake where that leaves him if Blake is killed. Blake replies with a base, the beginnings of an army. All of which is useless without Blake to lead them protests Deva. Blake tells him to relax because nobody is indispensible.
Answer: exactly what Blake is always up to. Fighting the Federation. Deep down he hasn't changed at all. I remind you of Avon's words from the start of the episode:Tarrant finds the control room and Klyn but is attacked by one of the technicians. As they struggle the alarm sounds and Avon, Vila, Dayna & Soolin enter. The guard is slain by Soolin and Avon kills Klyn as she tries to raise an alarm.
"He is strongly identified with rebels, you see. And very popular with rabbles. They will follow him and he will fight to the last drop of their blood.
Blake enters, with Arlen, and confronts his old friend Avon but Tarrant tells Avon that Blake has betrayed them. Avon finds it hard to believe this of his old friend
Klyn is played by actress Janet Lees Price, the wife of Paul Darrow who plays Avon. He's just shot his own wife!
Did Klyn sound the alert or .....
On the basis that the technician leaps at Tarrant I'd guess he's Terry Forrestal who works as the stunt arranger on Traitor, Stardrive, Assasin, Warlord & Blake.
Blake collapses at Avon's feet, blood pouring from his chest and says his friend's name as he dies.
A truely shocking moment as Avon guns down his former colleague. The look on Avon's face says he can't believe he's doing it. Once, by mistake, as an instinctive reaction I could get in a high pressure situation especially as Avon's issued a warning to stay still. But three times????Arlen holds them all at gunpoint. Deva rushes in telling Blake that they've been found before realising that Blake is dead.
Gareth Thomas agreed to appear as Blake *ONLY* if they killed him off making absoloutely sure he could not return. To that extent his costume was loaded with bags of stage blood desined to burst when he was shot leading to the shocking effect seen here.
.... so it's likely that the alarm heard during the last scene was sounded by Deva in response to whoever has found them.....Arlen shoots Deva and reveals she is a Federatrion Officer forcing them to throw their guns to the floor. She tells them Blake had said to her that he could no longer tell who was Federation and who wasn't. He was right: he couldn't.
Avon retains his gun standing motionless in the middle of the floor with Blake at his feet.Vila aproaches Arlen attempting to distract her but as Dayna tries to reach her gun she is shot and falls to the floor. Vila disarms Arlen but is then shot by Federation Troopers who enter the control room.
.... and the other cause of the alarm is revealed: it sounds when the Federation troopers enter the base.In the fight that follows Soolin is also gunned down. Tarrant shoots the trooper who shot her before being gunned down too leaving Avon standing over the bloody body of his former colleague......
Avon is surrounded by Federation troopers as the alarm cuts out.
Outnumbered and outgunned Avon raises his gun and smiles.......
And as the end titles run silently there's an exchange of gunfire......
Blake's 7 has specialised in superb end of season cliffhangers: The first had the Liberator being destroyed, the second had Avon opening fire against an alien fleet that impossibly outnumbers him and the third, expecting it to be the last episode, destroys the Liberator and maroons the crew on Terminal. Being aware the series was probably going to end they needed to produce something that was a definitive ending so killing everyone off was an obvious choice.
Oddly the ending to the series was prophecised in a way by Avon's line in Terminal:
"death is something he and I have faced together on a number of occasions I always thought his death and mine might be linked in someway"
You don't see Avon die. Even the gunshots over the end credits give hope:
One shot - Avon
Four shots - Federation blasters
One shot - ????
More shots - Federation blasters
There is that question that maybe, just maybe, he somehow survives. And beyond that we don't actually see blood when Deva, Klyn (even though she's shot with Avon's gun), Dayna, Vila, Soolin & Tarrant die. There's always the possibility that the Federation troops are shooting to stun and our heroes are going to wake up captured and in a cell. IIRC that's the basis of the start for Tony Attwood's sequel novel Afterlife.
And even beyond that there's the possibility that Blake is alive. No, stop laughing at the back there. Yes Avon has almost certainly killed Blake here but don't forget that there's more than one Blake running around: there's the clone we saw in Weapon. What if this Blake that died is the clone and the real one is still out there somewhere, roaming the galaxy with Jenna and plotting to bring down the Federation?
And even if Blake's dead, the Scorpio crew's dead, Avon's dead there's still TWO survivors from the series. There's Orac, absent from the final scene, presumably left in the flyer. The other is Servalan, absent in the final episode and last seen disposing of Zukan. It's oh so tempting to think that she is the Federation Official come to assess Gauda Prime's application to return to lawful status and that Blake *KNOWS* this and is trying to kill her.
So how do the Federation find Blake? I think they too have somehow had some suspicion he's on Gauda Prime. Arlen is inserted onto the planet with a faked criminal record to try to trap Blake and infiltrate the organistaion. She does just that and signals her success which is why the Federation troops all show up suddenly at the end. And the Federation Troops are a veritable who's who of central casting and Blake's 7 regular supporting artists: I counted 11 troopers at the end including Harry 'Aitch Fielder (previously Space Fall & Cygnus Alpha as a Armed Crewman, Deliverance as a Scavenger, and Weapon, Trial, Voice from the Past, Children of Auron, Games & Warlord as Federation Troopers), Pat Gorman (previously Deliverance as a Scavenger, Gambit as the Trantinian planet hopper Captain, Powerplay as a Death Squad Trooper, Power as a Hommik Warrior, Traitor as a Helot and Voice from the Past, The Harvest of Kairos, Rumours of Death and Games as Federation Troopers), Graham Cole (Gerren's Associate in Games, various Cybermen & other extras in Doctor Who and PC Stamp in the Bill), James Muir (Seek-Locate-Destroy as a Federation Trooper, Orac as a Phibian, Pressure Point as a Rebel, Dawn of the Gods as a Monster, Rescue as a Link, Traitor as a Helot & Assassin as a Pirate Guard as well as The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy as a Vl'Hurg Leader & plenty of uncredited roles in Doctor Who), Max Mundy & Michael Bauer (who are also the Bounty Hunters at the Cabin), Douglas Rose (a Federation Trooper in Seek - Locate - Destroy and uncredited Doctor Who roles), Tony Star (a Gammorean Guard in Return of the Jedi and is possibly the same as the Dalek Operator Tony Starr), Cy Town (also a Rebel Technician and Dalek Operator & other uncredited roles in Doctor Who) and Jeff Wayne (regular Doctor Who extra).
But of special note is the one time Dalek Operator and regular Doctor Who extra Mike Mungarven. He has is one of a small group of actors to appear in original and new Doctor Who thanks to an appearance as a passerby in The Christmas Invasion. In this episode he plays both a Rebel Technician/Federation Trooper but has also been, working backwards, a Helot in Traitor, a Customer/Gambler in Gambit, a Alta Guard in Redemption and a Prisoner in Space Fall & The Way Back. So that makes him one of only four actors (see above: the others are Gareth Thomas, Michael Keating and the aforementioned Steve Whyment) to be in both the first and last episodes of Blake's 7!
I love season 4. Yes it's the first one that I saw so that may colour my view somewhat but I still loved it today. Four episodes spent establishing the new status quo and then a series of schemes which go wrong in some way one after another all the time pushing Avon closer to the edge leading to the climax seen here. My one real criticsim is that Soolin is chronically underused especially in the earlier episodes which should have been spent setting her up. Dayna gets a major role in the first five episodes this season: there's several points where Soolin and the show would have been better served giving her the spotlight rather than the more established character. But I could watch those opening 4 episodes and Gold, Orbit & Blake again and again, they're fabulous stuff.
Interestingly Avon & Servalan meet just ONCE in series 4: Gold. Yes she's bidding at the Slave auction in Assasin but doesn't get to meet him. In that encounter at the end of Gold Avon discovers that he's actually risked his life to make her rich. That's too much for him. And when Xenon base goes up shortly after that's he snaps and thinks "that's it, I've had enough, let's find Blake and let him get on with it".
Season 3 was to me a bit of mess plotwise. It also fails in there's very little actual resisting the Federation going on and on this point at least Season 4 has it beat hands down. Yes it's going Tango Ultra every time but it's not always their fault. But the repeated going wrong is increasingly pushing at Avon's sanity to the point where the curly haired idiot says something stupid and he shoots Blake in response. And the seeds of this are planted in three: the only woman he's loved turns out to be a Federation agent. The Liberator is destroyed. Cally, who he may be close to, dies. The only thing that's holding it together for him after Terminal is that great cost brought them Servalan's death. And then she turns up alive and well in Traitor and that's it over the edge of the cliff of madness as the schemes get more and more insane. It's this resistance/failure/Avon's sanity that is the narative backbone to Season 4, something else that Season 3 lacks.
Following the end of the series Gareth Thomas (Blake) continued to appear regularly on both stage and screen. Paul Darrow (Avon) was instantly recognised by Doctor Who fans when he appeared in Timelash in 1985 alongside Colin Baker. Some have insinuated that Darrow's performance in that story may be revenger for Baker's scenary chewing in Blake's season 3 City on the Edge of the World. Both Thomas & Darrow appear in the shortlived Sky 1 series the Strangerers. Glynis Barber (Soolin) had a succesaful career in the 80s appearing in the BBCs adaptation of Jane and then Dempsey & Makepeace where she met her husband Michael Brandon. Her TV appearances were sporadic from then on , including a cameo in Red Dwarf's Stasis Leak as the woman with fur (I never knew it was her) until she took two soap jobs in the 2000s first in Emerdale and then in Eastenders which also features Michael Keating (Vila) in a recurring role as the vicar (I've managed to find at least one episode with both of them in!). Steven Pacey while not having any recognisable roles to his name seems to have been consistantly busy since Blake's 7 finished. Peter Tuddenham made a return to Doctor Who and voice work in 1987's Time & the Rani and kept acting up until 1995. He died in 2007, the second member of the Blake's 7 cast to pass away after David Jackson (Gan). But probably the most successful member of the cast is Josette Simon who's CV boasts a large number of high profile roles, including one in Cry Freedom, and now has a CBE for acting to her name.
One week following this episode's broadcast on BBC1 the Doctor Who spin off K-9 & company was shown on BBC2. A week after that the 20th season of Doctor Who started with Castrovalva parts 1 & 2.
Blake was repeated on Saturday 27/08/1983 which was the last UK Terrestial showing of Blake's 7 until The Way Back was repeated on 12/02/2000 ! It was released on Video as part of Blake's 7 tape 26 on 5th January 1993 where it was paired with the penultimate episode Warlord alongside the previous two episodes Gold & Orbit on Tape 25. Blake's 7 season 4 was released on DVD on 24th April 2006. The version of Blake on the DVD is unique in having it's location footage reinstated from the original film prints which are now owned by Steve Roberts of the Doctor Who Restoration Team.