Traitor

Written by:
Robert Holmes
Directed by: David Sullivan Proudfoot
Episode Length: 49'20
Original UK Transmission Date: 12/10/1981
Original UK Ratings: 8.7m
Original UK Chart Position: 59

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

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

Guest-Starring: Jacqueline Pearce (Servalan), Malcolm Stoddard (Leitz), Christopher Neame (Colonel Quute), Robert Morris (Major Hunda), John Quentin (Practor), Edgar Wreford (Forbus), Nick Brimble (General), David Quilter (The Tracer), Neil Dickson (Avandir), Cyril Appleton (Sgt. Hask) and George Lee (Igin).

Crew: Terry Forrestal (Stunt Co-ordinator), Rosemary Crowson (Production Manager), Frank Pendlebury (Production Associate), Joan Marine/Rona Butterwick (Production Assistants), Christopher Moss (Assistant Floor Manager), Fintan Sheehan (Film Cameraman), Mike Savage (Film Sound), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Sam Upton (Videotape Editor), Jim Francis/Andy Lazell (Visual Effects Designers), Robin Lobb (Video Effects), Doug Burd (Graphic Designer), Francis Smith (Properties Buyer), Terry Wild (Technical Manager), Dave White (Senior Cameraman), Nigel Finnis (Vision Mixer), Warwick Fielding (Studio Lighting), Malcolm Johnson (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), Nigel Curzon/Roger Cann (Designers) and Vere Lorrimer (Producer).

Story: Servalan is no longer President of the Federation, and is working for them under the assumed title of Commissioner Sleer. She has killed "26… so far" to protect her secret. The new President is a President Practa, while "Sleer" is out establishing a Pacification Programme. Using lasers to block the production of adrenaline, along with a muscle relaxant drug known as Pylene 50, they are subduing any resistance. Using the system they have been rapidly re-establishing their empire, with Vila worrying that "They'll be knocking on the door in a couple of years." The first colony to gain independence from the Empire, Heliotrix originally took months to be taken over by the Federation, yet here it's done rapidly using the drug. Tarrant and Dayna investigate, but while their mission is underway, Avon recalls them back to Scorpio as the ship is under attack. Tarrant pretends not to hear Avon so he can continue, while the Scorpio takes evasive manoeuvres. When they finally teleport aboard, Avon shows the first real signs of psychosis, informing them that: "the next time either of you pull a stunt like that I warn you… it may prove fatal." After being told that Servalan is still alive, Avon claims that he's glad as he didn't want her to die aboard the Liberator. (See Terminal) "I need…" he states, "to kill her myself."

Vila: Vila talks of the "Feltch expedition of '29 against the Wazis". When it's questioned why Vila doesn't like Tarrant Avon observes: "Tarrant is brave… young… handsome. There are three reasons for anyone not like him." However, in contrast to the previous season, Avon appears to say this in a light frame of mind, referring only to Vila's dislike of Tarrant, his own issues with him apparently long resolved.

Orac: Orac has been reporting on any extension of the Federation Command Network and is also working on boosting Scorpio's capabilities. He identifies the Federation computer on Heliotrix as both a Magnitrix 4006 Terminal and a Magnitrix 406 Terminal. It seems even computers can be fallible, while logical Avon, who normally doesn't miss a trick, lets this pass without contradiction.

Race: As Heliotrix is a colonised world, Avon talks to Dayna of the "First Stock Equalisation Act" where "every Earth race was still in force."


Viewpoint:
"Blake would have been proud of you, you know."
"I know, but then he never was very bright."


Traitor has a glorious bonus perhaps unique to any Blake's 7 episode: it's so unmemorable every time you see it it's like the first ever time. That's not to say it's bad - indeed, it's a large step up in season four's quality - just that it contains no outstanding script elements of any kind.

Dudley Simpson's OTT snake rattle music reminded me of Death to the Daleks (I seem to always slate Dudley's music or not mention it at all. That's because it only stands out in Blake when it's a distraction, there being only a handful of instances when it's outstanding. And yes, I know it was Carey Blyton, not Dudley who did the Death To music, I only said it reminded me of it) I dunno about you but I love to hear a cymbal crash in my fight scenes.

One of the problems with the season four set-up is the cosiness of it all. Avon is now definitely the leader, Tarrant's macho rivalry all but absent, while Vila is an OTT comedy character rather than comic relief. There's a difference. It's a most distressing thing that my favourite character is reduced to an irritating no-depth comedy whinger: was Vila always so annoying as here? Also check out the comfy lounge chairs on Scorpio. Okay, they had casual seats on the Liberator but having characters practically perpendicular works against any inherent drama. Speaking of Avon, Paul Darrow's further descent towards unmitigated ham now forces the character into two-dimensionality.

The episode is also notable for featuring one of only three black actors outside Dayna and her father. Naturally, it's a non-speaking part.