Skip to main content

He shall recognise deliverance and speak its name.

Blake's 7
1.12: Deliverance


Deliverance sets the groundwork for the season finale, and the main plotline is likably quirky if unremarkable. We start off thinking the story will be Servalan-centric with her up to no good in the Federation Space Command wheel (the Spacemaster ship she remotely detonates a charge on is an admirable effort, but a not-so-successful piece of effects work). This episode is a veritable feast for fans of Nation’s space prefixes. Servalan cancels her meeting with the “Space Administrators”.


Aboard the Spacemaster are Ensor (Tony Caunter of The Crusade, Colony in Space and Enlightenment) and Space Surgeon (!) Maryatt. So it’s down to Cephlon they flee in their escape pods, a planet populated by a bunch of primitive types. They look the sorts to repeat “Ug” to each other throughout the day. Michael E Briant is blessed with some snow to shoot in (which may account for the line about massive variations in temperature when the Liberator crew discuss going down to search for crash survivors.) The planet also has high radiation levels.

Blake: Are you sure you want to go down?
Avon: Are you afraid I will be able to cope with it better than you?
Blake: No.
Avon: Well, perhaps you ought to be.


Yes, it’s Avon leading the away team of Jenna, Vila and lumbering lummox Gan. So maybe he’s getting slightly into the heroic thing. Or he just wants to show Blake exactly what he says above. Certainly, he doesn’t give a rationalisation or intellectual curiosity as motive for this trip.


Finding Ensor alive, Vila wonders’ “Will he survive through the teleport stress?” There’s teleport stress? No one’s ever mentioned it before. This is the third outing for the Space Walkman and Visor, as Cally is grooving away to a jaunty Space Tune. She’s not hip, that’s for sure. And, although she hears Avon calling, it’s a bit remiss not to be fully alert at the teleport controls.


Of course, nothing ever goes completely to plan, and Jenna managed to get attacked by the Ugs. She is thus stuck on the surface. Dudley Simpson uses a recognisable bit of his The Talons of Weng-Chiang score (which is a good thing).  Blake has a habit getting all mardy with Avon over events that he really has no control over. When the latter says he will go back to search for Jenna, Blake tells him “I think you better” as if Avon left her there on purpose. Why don’t the teleport bracelets return to the Liberator when activated? I don’t see why they’d need a person attached to them.


Ensor is a bit of a bastard, pulling a gun on Blake and Cally and telling them to pilot the ship to Aristo (we have our first mention of Orac, and Ensor must reach his father to provide him with a box of micro power cells, without which he will only have a few days to live).


Blake should really have called Ensor’s bluff regarding his threat to kill Cally and then him, as he wouldn’t have been able to pilot the ship himself. This plot thread manages to work better than most of the Liberator-bound ones of recent episodes, slender as it is. There’s never much doubt that the ship will eventually turn back to fetch Avon et al, but there’s some reasonably tense scenes with Cally under threat. The eventual death of Ensor sets up the season finale with two parties converging on Aristo.


The scene between Servalan and Space Commander Travis is first rate, highlighting the former’s ruthlessness and a suggesting a hint of vulnerability in the latter. Travis didn’t resign, as was expected of him following the inquiry into his failure to apprehend Blake, and wants his command back. But it’s his response to Servalan informing him of Maryatt’s fate that shows a chink in his armour. Maryatt saved his life so he shows a slight reserve at Servalan’s suggestion that the Space Surgeon be named as a deserter, which will result in his family entering slavery.

Servalan: Does it matter?
Travis: No, only Blake matters now.
Servalan: And Orac.

Servalan hasn’t told her superiors of her plan (she offered Ensor 100 million credits for Orac – who is worth 10 times that – but had no intention of following through) so she’s identified here as more autonomous than previously (when she seemed most concerned about getting results that did not reflect badly on her.) She and Travis plan to obtain Orac together. I wonder if they’ll encounter Blake next week?


The Ugs aren’t the most impressive of adversaries and we see Avon shoot one (I haven’t been keeping track, but I’m not sure that we’ve seen him kill anyone outright up until now); Avon, Vila and Gan meet Meegat behind a handy door (one that Gan and Jenna discovered earlier), and what follows provides the episode’s most humorous incidents.  Meegat is played with earnest naiveté by the attractive Suzan Farmer (she also appeared in the UFO episode Survival). In Season One tradition, she appears to be devoid of a bra. She picks on Avon to worship as her lord.


Gan: She seems to be on our side.
Vila: Yes, but the poor woman’s insane.
Avon: Not necessarily.

On the violence front, Jenna smashes in an Ug’s skull with a rock but fails to escape.


Vila: You’re enjoying this, aren’t you.
Avon: Probably.


Meegat says there are less than 100 of her people left, but where are they? And how did she end up in her bolthole? Apparently there are about 200 Ugs. So there are probably some interbreeding issues as well as mutations due to radiation poisoning.


The dusty, aging control panels prefigure the forgotten history stories of Who’s season 18 (Full Circle and State of Decay) and Meegat tells Avon that it was prophesied that he (a stranger not of their world) would come and would know what to do.

Meegat: All things are known to you. You are truly lord.
Vila: Counting yourself, that makes two people who think you’re wonderful.


 Initially, I thought the reference to a chemical rocket meant it was full of chemicals, but they seem just to be commenting on how it’s fuelled. Meegat refers to the title of the episode when she says, “He shall recognise deliverance and speak its name”. There’s a call back to Time Squad when they realise that the rocket carries dormant cells of Meegat’s race (or, less charitably, Terry Nation really has run out of ideas and is repeating himself.)


Avon is given more of a Blake action role during the rescue of Jenna (the series thus far has played up his intellect and cunning as opposed to his brawn, such that his previous showcase episode had him playing detective); he beats an Ug with a stick and kicks another Ug down, effectively rescuing both Jenna and hapless Vila. Gormless Gan also gets to beat up a load of Ugs (leading to the slightly worrying line, “For a minute there I was actually beginning to enjoy myself” – perhaps Gan’s limiter was for more than just killing a Federation guard after all).

Vila: No respect. They obviously didn’t realise who you were.


Avon seems to rather enjoy Meegat’s devoted attention, at one point putting his hand on her cheek and, on their return to her bolthole, for a moment he even looks poised to take advantage of her subservience.


But he actually says that he’s sorry she had to wait so long for help to come, which is about as nice as Avon ever gets. Michael E Briant echoes his Revenge of the Cybermen in using stock rocket lift-off footage (“My Skystriker, my glory!”); it will take 500 years to reach planet fall in the Magdalen Alpha system.  But what happened to Meegat? The crew seem to have left her on her own. I guess she could return to the rest of her people, if she can avoid the Ugs.


Avon is asked if Meegat really though he was a god.

Avon: For a while.
Blake: How did it feel?
Avon: Don’t you know?
Blake: Yes, I don’t like the responsibility either.

A priceless look from Avon in response. It’s the kind of self-consciousness the series needs so as not to fall into the kind of one note dramatics that its premise inclines it towards.


Angry primitives aren’t the most promising of elements to put in a story, but this veers closer to Beneath the Planet of the Apes in its tale of a degraded society and so maintains interest. Fortunately, it possesses a more refined sense of humour than that film. 

Comments

  1. I wondered about the bracelet not returning alone but then realized it would be a very poor design leaving the person planetside without a bracelet and teleport operator topside with no way to send one back to the exact location of the stranded crew member.
    The Liberator could have ferried a few of Meegat's 100 to the new planet so they'd be preparing for the clones/DNA/whatever to arrive. They could have dropped them off anywhere with less radiation. I'm sure Meegat would have wanted to stay with Avon and Blake would have gained some allies, unknown to the Federation, who are able to work on resource gathering and aid the Liberator's crew in future story arcs.
    "Blakes 7" seems to just drop, unused, potential story arcs along the series.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Your honor, with all due respect: if you're going to try my case for me, I wish you wouldn't lose it.

The Verdict (1982)
(SPOILERS) Sidney Lumet’s return to the legal arena, with results every bit as compelling as 12 Angry Men a quarter of a century earlier. This time the focus is on the lawyer, in the form of Paul Newman’s washed-up ambulance chaser Frank Galvin, given a case that finally matters to him. In less capable hands, The Verdict could easily have resorted to a punch-the-air piece of Hollywood cheese, but, thanks to Lumet’s earthy instincts and a sharp, unsentimental screenplay from David Mamet, this redemption tale is one of the genre’s very best.

And it could easily have been otherwise. The Verdict went through several line-ups of writer, director and lead, before reverting to Mamet’s original screenplay. There was Arthur Hiller, who didn’t like the script. Robert Redford, who didn’t like the subsequent Jay Presson Allen script and brought in James Bridges (Redford didn’t like that either). Finally, the producers got the hump with the luxuriantly golden-haired star for meetin…

He mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.

Darkest Hour (2017)
(SPOILERS) Watching Joe Wright’s return to the rarefied plane of prestige – and heritage to boot – filmmaking following the execrable folly of the panned Pan, I was struck by the difference an engaged director, one who cares about his characters, makes to material. Only last week, Ridley Scott’s serviceable All the Money in the World made for a pointed illustration of strong material in the hands of someone with no such investment, unless they’re androids. Wright’s dedication to a relatable Winston Churchill ensures that, for the first hour-plus, Darkest Hour is a first-rate affair, a piece of myth-making that barely puts a foot wrong. It has that much in common with Wright’s earlier Word War II tale, Atonement. But then, like Atonement, it comes unstuck.

Who are you and why do you know so much about car washes?

Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)
(SPOILERS) The belated arrival of the Ant-Man sequel on UK shores may have been legitimately down to World Cup programming, but it nevertheless adds to the sense that this is the inessential little sibling of the MCU, not really expected to challenge the grosses of a Doctor Strange, let alone the gargantuan takes of its two predecessors this year. Empire magazine ran with this diminution, expressing disappointment that it was "comparatively minor and light-hitting" and "lacks the scale and ambition of recent Marvel entries". Far from deficits, for my money these should be regard as accolades bestowed upon Ant-Man and the Wasp; it understands exactly the zone its operating in, yielding greater dividends than the three most recent prior Marvel entries the review cites in its efforts at point scoring.

Dude, you're embarrassing me in front of the wizards.

Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
(SPOILERS) The cliffhanger sequel, as a phenomenon, is a relatively recent thing. Sure, we kind of saw it with The Empire Strikes Back – one of those "old" movies Peter Parker is so fond of – a consequence of George Lucas deliberately borrowing from the Republic serials of old, but he had no guarantee of being able to complete his trilogy; it was really Back to the Future that began the trend, and promptly drew a line under it for another decade. In more recent years, really starting with The MatrixThe Lord of the Rings stands apart as, post-Weinstein's involvement, fashioned that way from the ground up – shooting the second and third instalments back-to-back has become a thing, both more cost effective and ensuring audiences don’t have to endure an interminable wait for their anticipation to be sated. The flipside of not taking this path is an Allegiant, where greed gets the better of a studio (split a novel into two movie parts assuming a…

The simple fact is, your killer is in your midst. Your killer is one of you.

The Avengers 5.12: The Superlative Seven
I’ve always rather liked this one, basic as it is in premise. If the title consciously evokes The Magnificent Seven, to flippant effect, the content is Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, but played out with titans of their respective crafts – including John Steed, naturally – encountering diminishing returns. It also boasts a cast of soon-to-be-famous types (Charlotte Rampling, Brian Blessed, Donald Sutherland), and the return of one John Hollis (2.16: Warlock, 4.7: The Cybernauts). Kanwitch ROCKS!

I freely chose my response to this absurd world. If given the opportunity, I would have been more vigorous.

The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
(SPOILERS) I suspect, if I hadn’t been ignorant of the story of Christopher Boyce and Andrew Daulton Lee selling secrets to the Soviets during the ‘70s, I’d have found The Falcon and the Snowman less engaging than I did. Which is to say that John Schlesinger’s film has all the right ingredients to be riveting, including a particularly camera-hogging performance from Sean Penn (as Lee), but it’s curiously lacking in narrative drive. Only fitfully does it channel the motives of its protagonists and their ensuing paranoia. As such, the movie makes a decent primer on the case, but I ended up wondering if it might not be ideal fodder for retelling as a miniseries.

Everyone creates the thing they dread.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
(SPOILERS) Avengers: Age of Ultron’s problem isn’t one of lack. It benefits from a solid central plot. It features a host of standout scenes and set pieces. It hands (most of) its characters strong defining moments. It doesn’t even suffer now the “wow” factor of seeing the team together for the first time has subsided. Its problem is that it’s too encumbered. Maybe its asking to much of a director to effectively martial the many different elements required by an ensemble superhero movie such as this, yet Joss Whedon’s predecessor feels positively lean in comparison.

Part of this is simply down to the demands of the vaster Marvel franchise machine. Seeds are laid for Captain America: Civil War, Infinity Wars I & II, Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok. It feels like several spinning plates too many. Such activity occasionally became over-intrusive on previous occasions (Iron Man II), but there are points in Age of Ultron where it becomes distractingly so. …

I take Quaaludes 10-15 times a day for my "back pain", Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, part to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine... Well, because it's awesome.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Along with Pain & Gain and The Great Gatsby, The Wolf of Wall Street might be viewed as the completion of a loose 2013 trilogy on the subject of success and excess; the American Dream gone awry. It’s the superior picture to its fellows, by turns enthralling, absurd, outrageous and hilarious. This is the fieriest, most deliriously vibrant picture from the director since the millennium turned. Nevertheless, stood in the company of Goodfellas, the Martin Scorsese film from which The Wolf of Wall Street consciously takes many of its cues, it is found wanting.

I was vaguely familiar with the title, not because I knew much about Jordan Belfort but because the script had been in development for such a long time (Ridley Scott was attached at one time). So part of the pleasure of the film is discovering how widely the story diverges from the Wall Street template. “The Wolf of Wall Street” suggests one who towers over the city like a behemoth, rather than a guy …

Gloat all you like, but just remember, I’m the star of this picture.

The Avengers 5.11: Epic
Epic has something of a Marmite reputation, and even as someone who rather likes it, I can quite see its flaws. A budget-conscious Brian Clemens was inspired to utilise readily-available Elstree sets, props and costumes, the results both pushing the show’s ever burgeoning self-reflexive agenda and providing a much more effective (and amusing) "Avengers girl ensnared by villains attempting to do for her" plot than The House That Jack BuiltDon't Look Behind You and the subsequent The Joker. Where it falters is in being little more than a succession of skits and outfit changes for Peter Wyngarde. While that's very nearly enough, it needs that something extra to reach true greatness. Or epic-ness.