Blake

Written by:
Chris Boucher
Directed by: Mary Ridge
Episode Length: 49'41
Original UK Transmission Date: 21/12/1981
Original UK Ratings: 9.0m
Original UK Chart Position: 77

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

Guest-Starring: Gareth Thomas (Blake), David Collings (Deva), Sasha Mitchell (Arlen) and Janet Lees Price (Klyn).

Crew: Henry Foster (Production Manager), Frank Pendlebury (Production Associate), Winifred Hopkins (Production Assistant), Laura Gilbert (Assistant Floor Manager), Fintan Sheehan/Colin Case (Film Cameramen), Dennis Panchen (Film Sound), Sheila S. Tomlinson (Film Editor), Jim Francis/Mike Kelt (Visual Effects Designers), Francis Smith (Properties Buyer), Robin Lobb (Video Effects), Malcolm Banthorpe (Videotape Editor), Dick Bailey (Graphic Designer), 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), Roger Cann (Designer) and Vere Lorrimer (Producer).

Trivia: Chris Boucher stated that the conclusion was only intended as another cliffhanger, with only Blake definitely killed, as Gareth Thomas requested in his contract. Whoever wished to continue in the series could have merely been stunned the following season, yet the first Chris knew of this being the last-ever episode was when the BBC continuity announcer said it was on transmission.

Paul Darrow suggested it might have been better if the crew had died over the course of the season, rather than all at once, and that he could have killed Vila in Orbit.

Story: The crew of the Scorpio destroy their base on Xenon, for fear of Zukan or one of the other delegates revealing their location to the Federation. Avon has decided that it is time to unite a rebel army, and can think of only one man who can do it: Blake. He also reveals that he knew of Blake's whereabouts "before Zukan" and would have left Blake where he was if his plans with Zukan had worked out. Orac has calculated that Blake is on Guada Prime as a bounty hunter, using the calculation of chain of cause and effect. (Or "It is not easy to trace one line through the patterns of infinity" as he quite poetically puts it).
However, Blake's role as a bounty hunter is just a cover, as he has set up a base to recruit a rebel army. Federation gunships are tracking him, and shoot down the Scorpio as a result. The crew teleport away, except for Tarrant who holds the ship together and crash-lands on the surface at plantation five. Tarrant is picked up by Blake who uses psychology to test his loyalty, yet Tarrant misunderstands and thinks Blake has betrayed them to the Federation. Avon kills Blake, though they are all told to drop their weapons by one of Blake's recruits, a Federation Officer known as Arlen, who had fooled Blake. She shoots dead Dayna, though is knocked unconscious by Vila. Federation troops burst into the base, shooting Vila, Soolin and Tarrant. Avon stands over Blake's body as troops surround him, raising his weapon and smiling. As the end credits roll, we hear a shot from Avon's gun, only to be met with the sound of trooper fire…

Jenna: Blake tells Tarrant that Jenna "tried to run the blockade once too often" and that she "hit the self-destruct, and when it blew she took half a squadron of gunships with her."

Soolin: Soolin grew up on the planet of Gauda Prime with her family who were farmers. However, after it was realised that the planet would be more profitable as mining land, the Federation suspended the penal code, making it a lawless world. Her family were killed for wishing to stay behind.

Vila: When finding they've been tricked by Officer Arlen, Vila claims that he's never been against the Federation and was only with Avon for the ride. Is this a trick or genuine cowardice on his part?


Viewpoint:
"Have you betrayed me?"

Despite being by far the weakest season, the fourth is the only one to have two five-mark classics as part of its run. (Though Orbit is admittedly borderline).

This is so nearly my favourite it's untrue. Blake's 7 started first-rate and ends the same, and I defy anyone not watch the final scenes without at least one tear in their eye. Chris Boucher's dialogue is excellent; the nightmare of Rescue completely forgotten, and only let down slightly by Sasha Mitchell's intensely wooden acting. There's an almost Hitch-Hikerish feel of abandon here ("Are you ready?" "No, but do it anyway!") and a small frission of excitement when Blake clone Tarrant finally comes face-to-face with the real thing. Gareth Thomas is as superb as ever, and we even get Silver from Sapphire & Steel in on the act. (David Collings). Hell, everyone's at their best here, with even Glynis Barber finally coming into her own.

There's a feel that everyone is pulling out the stops, with Mary Ridge's direction giving more depth and life to the Scorpio flight deck than in any of the other four stories she directed this season. The Avon/Blake relationship is again a complex and ambiguous one. Avon looks on not with malice, but with shock at his own actions when he kills Blake. It's as if Blake is a part of himself that he needs to be free of, yet after he's killed him he stands protectively over his body. It's a kind of psychotic love that he has for him, and being forced to admit that only Blake can bring together a rebel alliance must damage his pride. The fact that last time he went looking for Blake it led to the death of Cally is again referenced here, and maybe discovering Blake was alive after all finally tipped Avon over into madness?

It's somewhat fitting for such a bleak show that four days before Christmas a family audience was shown their heroes getting shot dead in slow motion…