Blake's 7

Blake’s 7 – Redemption: “We Just Lost Our Ship”

Redemption works as a re-statement of Blake’s 7 and crew – just as they lose the Liberator. But the System are not alone in having designs on Blake’s ship.

Blake and Avon - Blake's 7 Redemption

In Redemption we’re reintroduced to Blake’s 7 with a crew much more at ease with one another. Blake is clearly identified as the leader, with Avon his mercurial Iago. The other four go about their work without complaint, very much Blake’s crew. But change in in the air.

They have also gained some measure of individuality in their clothing. Gone are the drab, rustic colours and strident anorak uniforms of the previous season. Gan looks particularly different, his vast cloak serving to emphasise his hugeness. Blake’s bat-wing leather robe seems to mark him out as the leader, while Avon’s double-breasted studded leather tunic – with its undertones of sadism, sensuality, darkness – seems to cast his as an antagonist or anti-hero – although it plays against the studied lack of passion he is known for.

Blake's 7 Redemption

That sang froid is soon on display. Avon has been observing Blake, silently, because he “had nothing in particular to say” – more likely, as he acknowledges, he suspected Blake was attempting to keep something to himself and wanted to see what played out.

Avon has already spotted a clue in Orac’s prediction of the Liberator’s destruction, however, and enjoys a small triumph over Blake – both in terms of waving aside Blake’s fruitless use of Zen and his self-satisfied reveal.

Blake's 7 Redemption

But Blake gets in his shots too – Avon is clearly unamused when Blake suggests he wouldn’t Avon standing behind him on the precipice of a cliff. Redemption marks the beginning of a new dynamic between the two: rather than simply wanting out, Avon wants Blake’s ship and his crew.

The nature or Orac’s prediction is concerning too. Orac cannot predict the future – he can merely extrapolate from available data. But he is unwilling to give Blake any clues as to prediction as to do so would be to invalidate it. Here we see Orac’s true nature – he would rather the ship is endangered, even destroyed, than be proved wrong.

Orac and Blake - Blake's 7 Redemption

However it seems incomprehensible – even for a machine of Orac’s abilities – that he could predict the precise details of Redemption, so either Orac’s prediction is that the Liberator will be destroyed or he is being mischievous. Neither are comforting thoughts.

Moreover, Zen is particularly unhelpful when the Liberator is attacked by System ships. Orac may be a genius; the Liberator may be the best ship in the galaxy, but neither computer makes it easier for Blake. Orac may save the day here, but he does it in his own good time – and possibly only because it serves to validate his prediction.

Blake's 7 Redemption - Liberator under fire

As ever, Avon seems one step ahead. Blake often perceives or senses trouble, but frequently finds Avon has already got there and is waiting, patient and amused, for Blake to catch up. Quickly Avon realises the pursuit ships have broken off their attack intentionally; then he pieces together the Liberator’s own rebellion.

The crew are starting to see Avon as a capable leader – both Jenna and Cally look to him for answers as the ship starts to behave erratically. Then both Vila and even Gan – who has always treated Avon with caution – report to him. Avon is openly contemptuous of Blake; the rest of the crew do not object, as they might have in the past.

Blake's 7 Redemption - Blake feels Level 3 correction

When Blake acknowledges that he owes Avon one, the latter simply banks it – and tells Blake he’ll collect when the time is right. The ship isn’t the only thing working against Blake.

Redemption is a restatement of Blake’s 7 principles. Blake is an idealist – and frequently impetuous; Avon is pragmatic. Paul Darrow’s performance has evolved between seasons. Here he is a picture of stillness, impassivity – rarely shifting his gaze or modulating his tone. Gareth Thomas’ performance is much more naturalistic, arguably offhand. Whether conscious choices or not, the both emphasise what is in the script and highlight their dualism.

Blake's 7 Redemption - "Turn around"

Back on board the Liberator, Blake orders a course back to Earth – and his fight with the Federation. Some of the others reacts as if it had slipped their mind. Again, for Blake, the run-in with the System has been a mere detour in the overall journey.

“You make them sound like the only alternatives,” says Avon of Blake’s suggestion that it’s the Federation or the System. But for Blake they are.

Blake's 7 Redemption - Blake seeks the Federation.

“Get back to your station,” he adds. Blake can be jocular, morally outraged, protective – even kind. But it masks an iron will – and he will only indulge Avon so far.

Avon considers, averts his gaze and turns away. There is no need to force a showdown now. He has credit in the bank – both with Blake and increasingly the crew. The System are not alone in having designs on Blake’s ship.

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