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Starring: Gareth Thomas (Blake), Sally Knyvette (Jenna), Paul Darrow (Avon), Jan Chappell (Cally), Michael Keating (Vila), David Jackson (Gan) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Zen).
Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Brian Croucher (Travis), Jane Sherwin (Kasabi), Yolande Palfrey (Veron), Alan Halley (Arle), Martin Connor (Berg) and Sue Bishop (Mutoid).
Crew: Michael Brayshaw (Production Assistant), Sheelagh Rees (Production Unit Manager), Mat Irvine/Peter Pegrum (Visual Effects Designers), Peter Chapman (Film Cameraman), Ian Sansam (Film Recordist), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Brian Clemett (Studio Lighting), Clive Gifford (Studio Sound), Richard Yeoman-Clark (Special Sound), A.J. Mitchell (Electronic Effects), June Hudson (Costume Designer), Marianne Ford (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Mike Porter (Designer) and David Maloney (Producer).
Trivia: The end credits to this episode scroll over a different space background to the others, with dark blue galaxies visible, and a completely black background for the credits from Series Deviser to Producer.
Story: Blake has been gathering information on Control for a year, and, using Orac’s help, now believes he has enough information to destroy it. He has made arrangements to meet a fellow resistance leader, Kasabi, on Earth at co-ordinates 3311101, with a homing beacon signal that transmits at 3 long, 2 short. When Blake touches down to meet her, he asks Jenna to put him down at a 0.5 variant, which he claims is “about a mile from the co-ordinates.”
However, Kasabi has already been intercepted by Servalan, who has killed her accomplices and takes her prisoner. Kasabi’s daughter, Veron, meets Blake and betrays him, blackmailed by Travis who claims he will kill her mother unless she does so.
When Blake, Vila, Avon and Gan arrive at the Control Centre, they find it empty. Travis informs them that Control was moved over thirty years ago (even he doesn’t know the real location), and that its false location is publicised as a way to draw off the Federation’s enemies. Just before he kills them, Jenna walks in with Servalan at gunpoint, allowing them to get away. In attempt to destroy the crew of the Liberator, Travis throws a Strontium Grenade, which collapses the wall of the Control Centre, crushing Gan. Trapped themselves behind the rubble, Servalan presages the next episode by informing Travis: “They’ll dig us out eventually… and then I’ll bury you.” Veron stays behind to settle a score, while Blake commands Zen to take them out of the solar system.
The Federation: The Federation began expansion and conquest 200 years ago, during which time the Administration established a computer complex capable of monitoring everything. After several failed attempts to destroy Control, it has become a symbol of the Federation’s power. The Federation has a high council, which Servalan has to consult in order to get authority to close down Control’s Forbidden Zone. Kasabi was a Senior Political Officer in Space Command. She taught her Officer Cadets treason until one of her cadets - Servalan (whom Kasabi had confidentially assessed as “unfit for command”) - reported her. However, she escaped during trial. Blake also reveals that the Federation had all churches destroyed “at the beginning of the new calendar.”
“We need a chance of survival.”
Possibly the strongest episode of season two, this one perfectly highlights both Blake’s fanaticism and its futility. Of particular note is the scene where they reach the Control centre, Blake crying out “We’ve done it, we’ve done it…” only for it to change to “I’ve done it.” When he realises the control room is empty, he sinks to his knees in despair.
Gan finally buys it under a block of polystyrene (you can even hear the squeak when Gareth Thomas accidentally nudges it with his foot!) and the same set is lit three different colours to pretend it’s different levels. Yet moans are really few and far between, and the budget was never what people watched Blake’s 7 for anyway. Okay, so Gan’s death is outrageously signposted, particularly with hindsight. (“I’m a bit out of condition”/“I needed a pace maker.”) but this is definitely one of the more rewarding storylines. The sense of danger is palpable all the way through. The crew have just eight seconds to dodge defence mechanisms or they’ll die, floors are booby-trapped… okay, it’s a bit 30s Saturday Morning Serial but the acting of all concerned helps take it to another level. Gareth Thomas is excellent as always, while I really admire Brian Croucher in the role of Travis. Okay, he kind of reminds you of a Johnny Vaughan/Steve Kemp hybrid, but he plays the role so straight. While Stephen Grief is arguably the better actor, he was often guilty of going along with Jacqueline Pearce’s self-aware camp, unlike Croucher who plays it deadly serious.
It cannot be overstated the importance of the decision to kill Gan. By showing the central characters are vulnerable, and they can lose, it adds a fresh element of danger to the series…