Monday, 20 January 2014

D7 Assassin

EPISODE: D7 Assassin
BROADCAST: 09/11/1981
WRITTEN BY: Rod Beacham
DIRECTOR: David Sullivan Proudfoot & Vere Lorrimer (uncredited)
SCRIPT EDITOR: Chris Boucher
PRODUCER: Vere Lorrimer
DVD: Blake's 7 - Series 4

"You can imagine how much it pains me to use the word 'infallible'."
"Oh, come on. No-one's infallible."
"Alright, then, he's not infallible. It's just that up till now he's never failed!"

Vila intercepts a coded messages from Servalan "Utiliser to Cancer, Domo the ninth, five subjects" Soolin recognises Domo as being a planet which is home to Slave traders while the believe the ninth is a date. Avon recalls Cancer is an assassin and points out there are five of them. Orac suggests going to Domo and trying to trap Cancer. Avon & Vila teleport to the planet where Avon allows himself to be captured by the slave traders, but looses his teleport bracelet, and Vila returns to the ship. Avon is flung into a cell with an old man Nebrox who offers to retrieve his bracelet in return for Avon taking Nebrox with him. Nebrox tells him of a strange black ship that had recently visited the planet. Servalan tried to buy Avon at the slave auction, but Nebrox stages a disturbance begging for his life and obtains Avon's bracelet. Avon frees the slaves as a distraction. Dayna teleports down with a spare gun and an extra bracelet. She just fails to kill Servalan and they teleport with Nebrox back to Scorpio. They find the black ship adorned with a crab motif. Avon & Tarrant teleport over and find a dummy in the control room. They are held at gunpoint by a man wearing a black uniform with a crab motif. His female slave makes a break for it allowing Avon & Tarrant to overcome him. The female slave, Piri, says she was bought for him as a slave by Servalan to celebrate his success. Soolin, Vila & Nebrox teleport to the ship. Avon decides to keep him alive to trap Servalan. Avon, Tarrant & Soolin stay on the ship with Nebrox & Piri, who tells Tarrant she is a dancer. She goes to rest but Nebrox goes to seek her out. He goes to check on the prisoner for her but finds him gone then is killed. Piri rushes to the bridge in hysterics bringing Avon & Soolin to the body. The man stalks the ship as Avon & the others stay in the bridge. They discover the ships flight systems have failed and then life support is shut down giving them two hours to live. They split up to search the ship for Cancer. Avon is knocked out. Soolin is attacked by a venomous spider but escapes having figured out what has happened. Avon wakes up to find himself bound to a table with the corpse of the man next to him. Piri admits she has killed him and that she is Cancer. The man was an actor Servalan had purchased for her from the slave auction. She contacts Servalan and lets her know she is holding Avon. She shows Avon the spider which transforms into the Crab broach Piri had been wearing. She transforms it back to a spider and leaves it on his chest. Tarrant & Soolin enter, holding Cancer at gunpoint. Soolin flicks the spider off Avon onto Cancer who it kills. They summon Scorpio to retrieve them as Servalan makes towards Cancer's stricken ship. She destroys the ship believing she has killed Avon & Tarrant.

Like Headhunter before it a bit of a harmless run-aroud. Servalan baits a trap, Avon & co walk right into it thinking they've got the better of her and haven't. Lots of Avon, while possibly not his best episode, Tarrant being stupid and falling for the slave girl and Soolin sitting down to figure the problem out. It's her biggest contribution to a story so far but it's nothing none of the other characters could have done. The broach that turns into a spider is quite fun but why a spider? Surely it would have made more sense for it to be a deadly crab? I won't even go into how it works!


Oh dear this is the first episode with the new costumes. None of them are as good as the previous versions with Dayna's Purple and Gold number being particularly bad.

I think this is the first time that Servalan has just tried to kill Avon & co. She's wanted Blake to stop his rebellion, and wanted the Liberator for it's power but this is the first time she's tried to just kill them! And at the end of the episode she believes them dead. That won't last long!


By far the most recognisable face in this to sci fi fans is Richard Hurndall playing Nebrox. His performance here is what is rumoured to have won him the role as William Hartnell's replacement as The First Doctor in The Five Doctors but he's got a long CV stretching out over many years. Verlis, the woman running the slave auction who Servalan talks to, is played by Betty Marsden who's got two Carry ons (Camping & Regardless) to her name. Adam Blackwood, Tok one of the bidders at the auction, was Balzar in Trial of a Timelord 1-4 (Mysterious Planet) and Cyril 'Barmy' Fotheringay Phipps in Jeeves & Wooster. In addition Rod Beacham, who wrote this episode of Blake's 7 had in his previous career as an actor appeared as Corporal Lane in the Doctor who story The Web of Fear! Oddly enough the writer of the next story also has a Doctor Who acting credit in the previous tale Enemy of the World!

The Domo sequences were filmed in a Sandpit near Bovingdon Camp in Dorset. I could swear someone's wearing the Omega's costume from the Three Doctors during the auction sequence!


This episode of Blake's 7 uses a lot of circular wipes to cut between scenes which is an odd technique and isn't used elsewhere in the episodes (though is in the Star Wars films) I'd suggest this is the work of Producer Vere Lorrimer who stepped in when allocated director David Sulivan Proudfoot was taken ill.

This episode of Blake's 7 was broadcast on BBC1 the same night as the Five Faces of Doctor Who repeat of The Krotons episode 1 was shown on BBC2. The whole of The Krotons was repeated on BBC2 during the week following.

Assassin was repeated on 16/07/1983. Assassin was released on video as the second episode on Blake's 7 tape 23 on 1st September 1992. It was paired with the previous episode Headhunter and alongside Tape 24 Games/Sand. Blake's 7 season 4 was released on DVD on 24th April 2006.

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