Warlord

Written by:
Simon Masters
Directed by: Viktors Ritelis
Episode Length: 49'07
Original UK Transmission Date: 14/12/1981
Original UK Ratings: 8.5m
Original UK Chart Position: 74

DVD Availability: Try SendIt.ComD Availability: Not yet released - check back later for pre-order details

Starring: Paul Darrow (Avon), Michael Keating (Vila), Steven Pacey (Tarrant), Josette Simon (Dayna), Glynis Barber (Soolin) and Peter Tuddenham (Orac/Slave).

Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Roy Boyd (Zukan), Bobbie Brown (Zeeona), Dean Harris (Finn), Simon Merrick (Boorva), Rick James (Chalsa), Charles Augins (Lod) and Brian Spink (Mida).

Crew: Terry Forrestal (Stunt Co-ordinator), Christina McMillan (Production Manager), Patricia O'Leary/Elizabeth Trubridge (Production Associates), Kevin Mann (Production Assistant), Fintan Sheehan (Film Cameraman), Dick Manton (Assistant Floor Manager), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Ian Williams (Videotape Editor), Jim Francis/Mike Kelt (Visual Effects Designers), Robin Lobb (Video Effects), Dick Bailey (Graphic Designer), Terry Brett (Technical Manager), Dave White (Senior Cameraman), Nigel Finnis (Vision Mixer), Warwick Fielding (Studio Lighting), Trevor Webster (Studio Sound), Elizabeth Parker (Special Sound), Nicholas Rocker (Costume Designer), Suzanne Jansen (Make-Up Artist), Dudley Simpson (Music), Terry Nation (Series Deviser), Chris Boucher (Script Editor), Paul Allen (Designer) and Vere Lorrimer (Producer).

Trivia: This was the last episode to feature Jacqueline Pearce as Servalan. Pearce has said she felt discriminated against, though the official line is that her contracted number of episodes had expired before the final episode. However, having appeared in eight episodes - including six consecutive stories - many of the cast agreed that her absence from the climax was due to her behind-the-scenes disagreements with the production team. The idea of the last episode, Blake, not featuring the show's main villain was dubbed by some as "Boucher's Revenge." Chris's opinion on this can be read in this site's Chris Boucher Interview

Some of the planets named in this episode bear similarities to other planets in the series. Betafarl is (phonetically) close to Beta Five from Gold, just two episodes earlier, while Zondor is almost identical to the planet mentioned in season two's Shadow, Zondar.

Story: After Zondor is the latest planet to fall to the Federation's pacification program, Avon tries to unite a planetary coalition against the empire. Arranging a pact between the systems of Tarl, Novos, Harius, Hom and Betafarl, he hopes to defeat the Federation. However, the Betafarl representative, Zukan, is a traitor, and plants a neutron bombarder in the conference area to claim it was sabotage. His plans are disrupted when he learns his biogenetic engineer daughter Zeeona has stayed behind with Tarrant. (Whom she had a relationship with years earlier). Zukan dies after Servalan double-crosses him and destroys his ship, leaving the Scorpio crew with a contaminated base. Zeeona volunteers to decontaminate it from the virus that Zukan has planted, and does so, though is afterwards killed after taking off her glove.

Pylene 50: Avon claims he has an anti-toxin for the Federation's pacification drug, but not the facilities or materials to process it.

Soolin: Soolin's father was murdered when she was eight. She claims that "so were the men who did it… eventually."

Game: The crew play a game with lots of balls in tubes. It looks like intergalactic Ker-Plunk in a way, though the rules are anyone's guess.


Viewpoint:
"I see my bad dreams in other people's eyes."

When I see the opening of this one, with 104 seconds of grey-faced, zombified subjects aimlessly going up and down escalators and being shot at I wonder if it's a homage to Dawn of the Dead? The moving split screen is a little "80s Top of the Pops", but Viktors Ritelis's direction is really quite special. It's easily among the best in this regard, so it's a shame that Viktors didn't have a better story to work on.

There's nothing so bad about Warlord, and it does further the political set-up, but it's just not that great in itself. Costuming is a little eccentric to say the least, with Tarrant's ex having a hideous pink dome, and golden plastic is everywhere. Note too how one of the delegates has a Seal of Rassilon from Doctor Who. Innuendo-wise, then "one person has to go down" gave me some puerile sniggers, and, while not exactly an innuendo, I did chuckle at Dayna's "We've got Channel Five"… then punching up a TV screen full of distortion and interference. (A reference which will make no sense to anyone outside of the UK, sorry). Talking of Dayna, then look out for Blake's most inconsistent character panicking like a big girl when she sees the virus.

As Servalan's last episode then her "sexy" rubbing of men when talking to them now makes her come across as a less of a machiavellian mistress, more of a dirty old slapper. Put 'em away, love, you're old enough to be me mother! And would Tarrant really fall for a dozy tart with hair like Toyah Wilcox? Yeah, come to think of it, he probably would. She's a weak, pitiful character, and as soon as she says, "I shall be perfectly alright" you know if won't be long before she buys it. Why does Tarrant get so shocked and upset when his loved one cops it, anyway? It happens every bloody week, for God's sake!

Dudley's music is another crap-o-rama, with what sounds like Nelly The Elephant playing out to a Federation guard attack. Still, at least Avon brings back his ultrabasin, a nice continuity touch with prior seasons. And Scorpio taking off from Betafarl is a top effect. As for Rick James - "But - words - ARE - no more than… words." - I love him. Can I have his babies?

All in all, a watchable tale, but its status as penultimate Blake episode means it always manages to disappoint.