Blake's 7

Blake’s 7 – The Web: “Change Is Inevitable”

Blake and his crew defend a group of hairless space rodents from a papier mache puppet in a fishtank in The Web, the fifth ever Blake’s 7 episode.

The first four episodes of Blake’s 7 form a fairly coherent vision of the series and its worldview: a dystopian science-fiction series about the struggle between a group of criminals, led by an ideologue, fighting a fascistic government in space.

What people in 1977 made of The Web – where Blake and his crew defend a group of hairless space rodents from a papier mache puppet in a fishtank – is not recorded. It’s a far cry from the confluence of 1984 and Brave New World we saw only weeks before.

However The Web does allow Terry Nation to delve into some further character dynamics, such as expounding on Cally’s telepathy, while the empath is possessed, pondering whether the source of a message could be The Lost, a group of Auronar expelled from the planet.

“Don’t be mystical Cally,” snaps Blake in the first of several shows of irritation shown by the rebel leader in this episode.

The reactions to Cally’s unmasking when she damages The Liberator’s forward detector links vary significantly.

While Gan is once again relied on to be calm under pressure – and later shows dismay at the rough treatment Cally receives from the others – Jenna slaps her: “You should have never have brought her on the ship!”. Avon grabs her by the throat, face contorted in fury.

Avon is perhaps still sore from the fact he could have allowed Blake to blow himself to bits in the hold. A look of annoyance certainly flashes across his face as he rises to his feet having shoulder-tackled Blake out of the path of an exploding bomb.

Was is an automatic reaction, as he says? Or is there something more to it, something that Blake perceives, even if Avon does not? As Blake remarks, he is not surprised Avon chooses to save him.

In this scene Blake provides yet another opportunity for Avon to save his life – and is the look that passes between them – as the light on the bomb winks out – one of a challenge from Blake to Avon? Save me – or let me die: you choose.

Either way, Avon obliges. Another incremental bond between the two that proves harder for Avon to break with every second.

Later Avon demonstrates the Liberator’s self-repair mechanism to Gan, inbetween lobbing insults, which the big man shrugs off.

Avon thus highlights the ship’s awesome financial value. It’s either a handily coincidence that catalyses a discussion about money and leadership or… it’s something else.

“There will come a time when [Blake] won’t be making the decisions,” smiles Avon. Gan isn’t buying. When Blake teleports to the planet he warns the others to be ready. “We will,” confirms the big man, eyeing up Avon. Gan may be slow, but he’s no fool.

With Avon happy to sit this one out Jenna is clearly in charge in Blake’s absence, another demonstration of the mother role and de facto number 2 she adopts in this first series.

On the surface Blake quickly discovers a morality play that seems made for him: escape with his ship and crew to wage war on the hated Federation – or save an entire species of intelligent creatures from genocide.

Prior to Avon’s arrival Blake finds his bargaining power with The Lost scuppered when he learns Avon is already on the planet – with the power cells, in the midst of the Decimas.

“I don’t give a damn about your power cells,” snarls Blake to Saymon when he learns of this. “There’s a friend of mine out there.”

Does Blake genuinely believe Avon is his friend? It seems unlikely, given how often Avon reminds him of his leadership ambitions. But perhaps he perceives a bond that even Avon does not quite comprehend.

In short order Blake’s plan to withhold the power cells is easily defeated; the only reason the crew escape and Decimas survive due to the Lost leaving their front door open. More dumb luck for Blake and company.

For his part, having seen the havoc they wreak in the base, Avon is appalled that Blake was so desperate to save the Decimas – a parallel of his attitude towards Blake’s crusade against the Federation.

Unsurprisingly, back on the Liberator, both Blake and Avon manage to make their experience on the planet validate their opposing world views.

“Change is inevitable,” sneers Avon.

“Whilst we fight, Avon,” manages Blake.

But for the first time Blake looks worn down. The demands on his time and wits – from a fractious crew requiring constant management – are getting on top of him. Not so Avon.

For both men, their detour to the planet of the Decimas – genocide, genetic engineering and violent death – is a mere footnote in their private little war.

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