In the third episode of Blake’s 7 Blake, Jenna and Avon try to familairise themselves with their new ship and what it can do, and have a good scout around and find all manner of things in there such as a wardrobe full of clothes for humanoids, so you can expect the ship was originally designed for a humanoid race. They also discover a cache of really cool looking weapons and a teleport facility, the only catch is that they haven’t got a clue in how to operate it properly.
On the penal colony Cygnus Alpha, the London drops its cargo off and scarpers very quickly leaving the prisoners to their fates. On the planet itself the ship was seen entering the planets atmosphere by the locals who seem to be part of a religious cult and it is immediately decided by a high priestess that they are new converts to their religion, whether they like it or not.
The prisoners are released onto the planets surface and are soon captured by the priests who then tell them that they are dying and that they have to take this special medication each day for the rest of their lives and for good measure they lock them up for their own safety.
Avon and Jenna stay aboard the Liberator whilst Blake is transported onto the planet for a test run. He is soon seen by the locals and is ambushed but they are able to return back to the Liberator in the nick of time before he got caught and unmentionable things being done to him.
It’s not long before Blake gets them to put him back down on the planet and to give him four hours to rescue as many of the prisoners as he can, assuming they want to leave of course, but why would they not? What does Cygnus Alpha have to offer them?
Of course Avon is all for leaving him there and taking the ship themselves but Jenna wants to wait for Blake and Avon admits defeat on this occasion and does not try to just take over the ship on his own, knowing that he would probably need more than just him to take over the ship.
On the planet Blake is able to find the others and is told about the disease and that they all need to remain on the planet in order to stay alive. Blake tells them he will try and get them to give them a supply of the drug, or tell them how to make it.
Blake is soon captured and taken to the head priest on the colony Vargas who decides that he will not help Blake but that he will instead take over the Liberator and use that to get more followers.
Cygnus Alpha sees a guest appearance by Brian Blessed as Vargas, the leader of the colony, and this is Blessed at his shouty best and he is really the best thing about the episode, despite him spending the majority of the episode bellowing as loudly as only Brian Blessed can.
Vargas is quite drunk with power and sure of his superiority and his rightful place as the head of the order. There is now doubt in his mind that he will obtain the Liberator, and that Blake will hand it over without a shadow of a doubt, mostly because he is a bloody big bloke who you would think twice about messing with (witness the way he crushed a teleport bracelet with just one hand) and you can imagine will not be the last person to want to nick the Liberator off Blake and his crew, not that it is theirs to offer technically.
Pamela Salem also appears in the episode as high priestess, Kara, and is quite impressive in a very small role indeed and also quite a nice change from a bunch of blokes but she does meet with a sticky end and catches the eye of Gan, for which you cannot entirely blame him, as she is pretty much just there to look pretty. In fact this episode has twice as many female characters than the previous episode has, so there is progress for you.
We meet two other prisoners in this episode Arco and Selman who I don’t recall seeing or even being mentioned in the first two episodes who could potentially be part of the seven considering at the moment that we only have Blake, Avon and Jenna leaving four more places, or three if you could Zen as one of the seven. That leaves three (or four) places for Gan, Vila, Arco and Selman.
Later in the episode both Arco and Selman went the same way as Nova in the previous episode and Gan and Vila are spritied away to the Liberator meaning that now there 5 of them plus Zen, so still a little way of the entire seven but it could quite easily have been Gan or Vila who were killed in the episode rather than Arco or Selman, but I guess that Gan and Vila were more interesting characters than Arco and Selman so that is why they were spared.
We had only met them in this episode so we were a bit more aware of what Gan and Vila were like so I suppose it was the right call in the choice of characters who made it back to the ship. The other prisoners I assumed were just not bothered and were happy to stay on Cygnus Alpha and, as we don’t even know their names, I guess that they don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
Jenna and Avon have some good scenes together on the Liberator with Avon trying his best to persuade her that listening to, and going along with, Blake is a lost cause, and that she would better of going along with him and Liberator but he is not able to persuade her, as she, unlike him, actually thinks that Blake has a point and that it wouldn’t be fair on him, and the others, to leave them to rot on Cygnus Alpha.
Meanwhile Avon doesn’t give a damn about the others and is already working out what to spend the money on that he can get from the Liberator but is not able to bring himself to just kill Jenna and then take off in the Liberator, which shows that he is not quite as cold and calculating as he appears to be, or perhaps more pragmatic about his actual abilities, which is probably the most accurate summation of his character.
This is a very interesting episode with some really excellent character moments between the regular characters and further cementing the make up of the seven. Brian Blessed was way over the top, it has to be said, but he is always watchable and it was no different here. We got to see a lot more of the Liberator in this episode and is it certainly a fascinating craft, and a sight to behold, and you can firmly understand why Blake, Avon and Vargas find it so fascinating.